Business performance software can dramatically change the way a business runs. The difficult part is to select the right business software package for the business. Selecting the package involves building a case within the company for the business software. After the case is made, you will need to itemize a list of requirements for the business performance software, create a list of candidates, then prune the list based on the needs of the enterprise. A consultant may be helpful at this time.
The first task is to articulate the needs of the company, and why these needs would be met by a business performance software system. Most enterprise-wide business systems involve a considerable investment, so it is important that the system result in a positive outcome. One important result is the improvement of the information that decision-makers are using.
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, for example, combined with database software and payroll software can assist in the budgeting, planning and analysis processes by presenting a unified system that allows the management team to extract the information from many systems with a single inquiry. Budgeting and planning improvements are a huge help for firms that struggle with a budgeting process that might take as long as six to nine months with older systems. Business performance software can improve the speed and quality of the budgeting process, thereby reducing the amount of money expended in the process.
Having made the case for the business performance software, you must itemize a specific list of requirements. The market offers a number of packages, most of which are customized to the customer’s specific needs. For accountancy, modules might include business invoicing software, payroll software and asset management packages. Some companies might need fleet management or, for the retailers, an integrated point of sale (POS) system is available from many vendors.
It is important that the list of requirements be very specific, because many companies have products that seem similar on the surface. The two departments who can help the most would be the finance department and the information technology (IT) department. The finance department will have a very specific set of requirements, especially in terms of accounting products that make up the bulk of business performance software packages. The IT department will have insight into what packages will work best with the existing infrastructure of the company’s IT system.
The key is detail and understanding exactly what the company needs. Prioritize the list as “mission critical,” “important,” and “nice to have.” By creating the requirements list in detail, you will have full documentation of the decision process, which will allow better understanding when it is time to roll out the business performance software within the enterprise. It also will prevent you from having to start from scratch if the executive team is unhappy with the results of the investigation.
After you have a list of requirements, it is time to create a list of vendors and analyze their products against the list of requirements. In this process, it might be wise to hire a third-party consultant for objectivity. Consultants with expertise in the field might save the company from choosing a business performance software package based on a slick sales technique rather than based on its ability to meet the needs of the company. Using a consultant can help to keep the vendors honest and can help redirect the selection team if it gets lost in a flashy presentation.
After it is all over and the company has selected the appropriate package, it is likely that the company will experience a few internal difficulties. Software rollouts normally are difficult times for companies. With patience, the new software system will begin to help rather than hinder, as long as you have chosen the software with the company’s needs firmly in mind.