Three Mistakes People Make When Selecting a New Software System

September 2015

The decision to implement a new system within an organization is one that is complex and risky. Aside from the investment in time and money, the potential for disruption of service poses a risk to business continuity, customer loyalty and ultimately your bottom line. Finding and selecting the system provider that best fits your organization’s needs is a challenge that requires the full engagement of your organization’s stakeholders in order to avoid failure.

We see three common, avoidable mistakes that organizations make when selecting a software provider:

  • Failure to formally document requirements prior to selecting the vendor – Because a system implementation will require changes to your existing workflow, it is essential that an organization understands both management and end-user requirements for both current AND future processes. Formally reviewing and documenting stakeholder requirements will ensure their needs are considered when comparing different solutions. The software provider’s “best-fit” workflow is almost never sufficient for the specific needs of your operation; documenting workflow ensures a better understanding of gaps and needs before engaging in a system implementation doomed to fail.
  • Too much reliance placed on vendor demonstrations – As the vendor selection process advances, it is common practice to observe vendor demonstrations. Due to limited time and the vendor’s unfamiliarity with the complexity of your organization’s environment, you will likely only see the most simplistic workflows. Operations in most businesses are more complex than the vendor’s provided workflow, and making a decision based on the simple example can quickly lead to problems as the implementation progresses. To avoid this, thorough background research and reference checks should be conducted to ensure the system functions as anticipated in organizations similar to yours. If comparable implementations aren’t available, consider this a big red flag and indicator of trouble ahead.
  • Too much emphasis placed on system cost – Too often, the cost of the software is the dominating factor that drives management’s decision. This can be a tempting but dangerous path to follow. While cost is a significant consideration, and selecting the cheapest system may save you money up front, the customizations and workarounds that the cheaper system inevitably require will often end up costing more in the end.

If your organization is unfamiliar with the system selection process, experienced third-party advisors can provide a number of services that will assist you with your decision. They can ensure your organization’s system requirements are defined by conducting operational reviews and current state analysis. Advisors will also know the right questions to ask software vendors to show any potential weaknesses in their system. Additionally, they can provide unbiased background information on all of the packages that are available in the marketplace to assist their clients in deciding which system is the best fit for their organizations.

Below you will see the structured approach BNN uses to guide the system selection process. Our methodology involves all stakeholders within your organization as requirements are defined before the RFP process begins. By conducting thorough due diligence and background research on a potential provider, we can ensure you have the information you need to select the best vendor.

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For more information regarding system selection and to ensure your organization is following a process for success, please contact Ilona Davis or your BNN advisor at 1.800.244.7444.

Disclaimer of Liability: This publication is intended to provide general information to our clients and friends. It does not constitute accounting, tax, or legal advice; nor is it intended to convey a thorough treatment of the subject matter.