Organisations decide to select new Enterprise Software packages for a variety of reasons. Business growth may lead to the need for a more robust solution with wider functionality and the ability to deal with multi-site, multi-country operations. Legacy systems may be regarded as old fashioned and lacking in up to date functionality. Corporate acquisition may lead to the need for systems harmonisation across a group and a new group-wide strategy may be called for resulting in the need for a new system.
Once the decision has been made to proceed, then the shareit for laptop selection process should aim to identify a product that will provide easy to use functionality, efficient business processes, will have management approval, user acceptance and a positive return on investment for shareholders/stakeholders. In today’s challenging economic environment, investment in a new system can help an organisation move ahead of the competition and although the implementation process may prove costly in terms of time and resources, the long term productivity and efficiency gains for the business can be significant.
Package selection is never risk free
Selecting a new Enterprise Software system can be difficult and time-consuming. Due to the large number of Enterprise Software products available in spite of recent vendor consolidation it is not unusual for organisations to select a system that may not completely meet their needs. This may result in a more costly and lengthy implementation and extra post-implementation costs. It is estimated that almost 90% of Enterprise Software implementations run over time and budget, usually due to poor planning and the underestimation of time and resources required for specific tasks such as data migration. Project milestones can be overly ambitious, aimed at satisfying the needs of senior management who will have high, not always realistic expectations. It pays to be cautious and realistic with these goals during the planning phase to avoid the risk of having to explain later why deadlines have not been achieved and the system is not immediately able to provide the expected benefits.
Software deployment projects have great potential for error but once the process has been started it is advisable to allow them to run their course despite any problems encountered. It is not uncommon during a selection process for senior management to delay decision-making or the implementation, as during the process it will quickly become evident how much time will be required and how much the project will cost. This may make senior staff reluctant to proceed even if a clear business case has been established. Cost-benefit analysis can be carried out during the decision making process to establish the savings to be gained from the new system and the longer a deployment is delayed the greater the loss to the business in terms of the savings which would be made by using the new system.
With the right team in place and the correct deployment strategy, the organisation can ensure they make the correct choice for long term business and user benefit and ensure that the new system is implemented efficiently, on time and to budget. Selecting the right software is the first step in a lengthy process and will help prevent implementation problems, surprise costs and should mean that teething problems are reduced once the system is operational and should lead to high levels of user satisfaction.
The following 10 step guide outlines the process required to successfully select a new system and if followed will ensure the organisation selects the Enterprise Software product they need to meet their specific business requirements.
1. The selection team
First-class project management is the key to success for any major Enterprise Software change project and the participation of experienced, appropriately qualified change consultants with he appropriate mix of technical and soft skills and ability to work effectively with users and the business is a pre-requisite. A team should be assembled to conduct the project once the business case has been established and the decision made to select a new system.
The selection team should be familiar with the process including gathering user requirements, identifying potential vendors, liaising with vendors, attending product demonstrations and obtaining customer references. The team should include an influential sponsor from the organisation’s executive management team who will ideally report directly to the CEO and will have support from fellow Senior Directors and other top managers in the affected business areas.