Insiders Guide to Buying Business Software

By Enabliser Kim

Purchasing business solutions like financial management systems or customer relationship management systems is just like any other purchase. It’s a decision based on meeting desired needs or outcomes, which could be anything from managing inventory, billing or manufacturing requirements to improving customer visibility or access to KPI’s.

The difficulty when going to market for business management software is navigating all the options available. The myriad of solutions can be overwhelming, especially when on paper they all appear to address key challenges you face.

So what is the best way to select a solution best suited for your business, the solution that ticks all the boxes now and well into the future and brings the returns expected from board or shareholders?

The two most popular options tend to be:

•        RFP process–a comprehensive consultative selection process bigger corporates typically use.

•        Needs Analysis Workshop - a more refined approach, focused on getting a higher level of requirements documented.

The approach you take is dependent on several factors, like time and available resources within your organisation. The workshop approach is suited to small and medium enterprises and allows the purchaser to control the buying process, but at the same time provides the business solution provider with enough information to identify and showcase a solution that meets requirements as documented—and it makes them do all the work.

The best part is the document produced becomes the “line in the sand”. It ensures you are comparing “apples with apples” when reviewing proposals and business software providers. Otherwise it can become a very confusing affair, especially when introducing several products into the mix. The other advantage is it means you are identifying problem areas and stumbling blocks earlier as opposed to when you are in the implementation phase.

This kind of review needs to take place before you start looking at solutions; it needs to be neutral with no pre-determined solution, the review has to be about your business and your requirements, to receive best results.

Before you begin, we suggest reading How to or 10 Questions Series booklets that assist with questions you will need to ask vendors. You can find these on our website

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