Top Five Tips for Reviewing Your Business Software Systems

Whether you’ve done it once or many times, evaluating software can be daunting, time consuming and stressful.

 

We’ve learnt a few things at Eureka Solutions over the past fifteen years of us implementing new systems that you might find useful if you’re approaching or in the midst of this process, and we would like to share them with you.

  1. Think long-term

 

One of the most important pieces of advice we’d give would be to not to think ‘what do I need my system to do now?’, but to think ‘what will I need our system to do in five years to support our strategic plan?’

 

It’s like architects always say – don’t design your house around your toddler’s needs, because toddlers grow!

 

If you don’t think long-term you can end up with poorly planned system architecture that handles short-term needs and that holds your business back from scaling efficiently. Siloed business software systems can restrict flexibility and productivity and can hamper growth.

 

  1. Opt for one single-source of data

 

This leads us to our next recommendation – where possible and appropriate to your processes – go for a system that integrates your key business software applications around a single database. Whether you start with financials and build out (often recommended) or hit the ground running with any or all of financials, ERP, CRM, PSA, ecommerce and BI, if you go for a system capable of unifying  functions in this way, scaling up – be it via new users, locations or sales channels – can be accomplished a lot faster.

 

  1. We can’t not mention the cloud

 

The linchpin for this is the current hot topic that you’ll have read about over and over – the cloud. Be careful that you don’t read ‘cloud’ so much that you stop seeing it, it’s vital to your systems strategy. Yes, cloud software allows you to run your systems with nothing more than access to a browser and an internet connection, but the benefits are much more significant than that.

 

From increased security to reduced downtime, from real-time 360-degree visibility to upgrades being automatically delivered, not being on a cloud-based system immediately puts you on the back foot in so many ways.

 

  1. Consider the end user

 

Next tip …. think about what the experience will be for the end-users of your new system. Will the system give users sufficient ownership of their experience – will they have dashboards customised to their roles and their needs, will they be able to customise them and make minor changes easily without technical expertise? Giving employees the ability to make simple configuration changes to suit their priorities makes for a more efficient experience, increased user adoption and ultimately ROI.

  1. Alleviate the pain of the changeover

 

It’s not just the choosing of the system that can seem daunting, it’s the changeover process itself. Managers can be wary of making changes due to the pitfalls traditionally associated with software implementations, such as tedious and lengthy cycles, ballooning costs, implementation fatigue and disruption to business.

 

There are two main factors that influence the success or otherwise of this process – the configuration of the system, and your choice of partner.

 

Consider opting for a system that comes pre-configured with industry expertise, pre-defined roles, process flows and KPIs; that comes with turnkey set up and training, and reports, dashboards and business intelligence built in. This is available via NetSuite SuiteSuccess, for example, and really, why wouldn’t you? A clear pathway and rapid business value allow you to skip the traditional tedious, long, disruptive implementation.

 

As for the choice of partner, be fussy. Get references, ask not only about the implementation but the ongoing support and relationship. Ideally find someone that has experience in moving similar businesses from the system you’re on to the system you’re moving to. Speak to your peers. Pick a partner that is well-resourced – do they have sufficient resources and experience to support you with your change management and not leave you stranded out with the basic technical requirements?

 

In conclusion

 

Yes, the systems review can be daunting, but don’t let that put you off and hinder your growth and the productivity of your team. Change can be hard work so it’s vital to manage it effectively. Follow the guidance above and you won’t go far wrong. Feel free to get in touch if you want any further information on any of the points.