New System Selection: Where do you start? (Part 1)

By Enabliser Andrew Mc
Your current ERP or CRM solution might be holding you back in a number of ways, such as requiring additional effort to perform routine tasks which you know is costing you money every day.  So you take the decision to replace it with something that will serve the business better.  This article is intended to help you take those first steps towards moving ahead with a solution that will enable your business to be more efficient.
A new solution, whether it is a financial solution or Customer Relationship Management, represents a major investment for most companies and it is never a task to be taken lightly – but having said that, does it mean you should put off the potential investment until conditions are better, such as the economy, the best time of year and the right mix of staff is on board?
If you acknowledge that the current system is costing you, then logically the sooner you implement the right solution the sooner you will reap the benefits.  This is not to say you should try to implement a new solution during peak business periods, but waiting for perfect conditions will ultimately cost your business more.
What should you know before you have someone sitting across a desk from you telling you about some great new piece of software that will revolutionise your business?
The first decision you should make is the process you need to follow to make a decision – who should be involved?   How will you feel comfortable with selecting the solution? 
This will no doubt need to be tempered to find a practical method of selecting a solution, of course we would like to know as much as we can about the solution before we commit – but is there some middle ground?  How will you get to a comfortable decision without having to commit months of resources to the search? 
The next consideration should be your key processes and business flows, and how these support your businesses key differentiators – the unique things about your business that keep your customers selecting you instead of the competition.  Your discussion around a new solution should have these considerations in the foreground  as your end goal is to maintain and enhance these advantages, not lose them so your business becomes just like your competition.
And, finally, who do you call?  What should you look for in an implementation partner?
Here are some questions you should consider:
Domain experience – have the implemented solutions in your industry?
Their experience and depth of their team – will your business be relying on one or two people?
 How deep is their knowledge?  Do they have specialists such as developers?
What do their customers say about them?
Have they won awards? – are they all sales awards?
The next article will cover what you should be looking to get from a first Meeting
Thinking these points through will help you get the best outcome and not bogged down by a list of features a particular solution has – at this stage it is too early to be talking about specifics.
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