Saying that a business revolves around technology for successful operation, continuance and profitability is a cliché but clichés are just that – proven truths. So you know about your business, operations, specific needs and future requirements.
But how do you get the right “guy” to deliver your IT and ERP requirements? Hunting the market, wading the hype and striking the right deal indeed takes time and energy. Here’s a list of the must-haves you must consider before you sign on the dotted line:
1. Know “Thyself”
If you know pretty well what you want and make checklists of must-haves, could-be-better-to-have-it and no-no lists, it’s easier to say whether a solution fits in with your requirements. You need to list down exactly what you desire. The key is that the solution needs to have a perfect fit with your business needs. So list down all your requirements before having any detailed presentations. Make sure you deal with the dreaded “D word” – data. Understand your data, cleanliness of data, migrating data – the foundation of any software system is the data.
2. Past Is Important
It’s a sensible idea to get a hang of the software provider's past, evidenced by the projects executed so far and credentials. The time the provider has been there, the growth seen, range of clients handled, and specialist domains – each one is important. Obviously, for a retail business, you would not like to outsource IT solutions to a banking solutions specialist. It's also imperative to look at robust technological capabilities and credibility. Also, make sure that you look at companies with sufficient staff to get trouble-free output.
3. Feedback to Feed Forward
Usually, it is one of the more reliable parameters and is the easiest to find out. Look for client testimonials, easily found online for any good business worth it's name. You must insist on references to establish the vendor’s credibility and clients are usually willing to share their experiences. While doing so, try to know the length of their experience, service quality, responsiveness and intellectual capital.
4. Shrink or Expand
A solution provider’s ability for customization and scalability deserves attention as with business expansion, the software too needs to be scaled up accordingly. In a way, you are trying to make your business future-proof, at least temporarily. You won’t like to buy a new solution after 2-3 years if the existing system has become incapable of handling your growing needs. It won’t hurt you to look at the foreseeable future and provide for it now.
5. Performance Parameters
You should be able to measure the solution provider’s performance against pre-decided goals, called key performance indicators (KPIs). Such a list is important to avoid any heartburn later due to differences over performance appraisal since you know what is expected.
6. Test drive the “car”
Consider taking a test drive before you pay for your dream “car”. Request a trial to test the software or proof of concept or short term deliverables. While testing it, see if it has the features and functions you desire. Ask questions as you would like to have a perfect fit for your special needs. Not to forget, integrating the software with your existing systems is also essential to save you the bother and further investment. Your personnel would also need training in software use and make sure it's a part of the package.
7. After Sales Service
Software bugs, glitches and breakdowns disrupt businesses and create losses. Ask your vendor how he plans to handle updates and upgrades. The vendor needs to have a good after-sales track record.
A software solution is long term investment and the vendor you choose is a partnership. A solution is not just a once off cost, but continuous investment and improvement is what makes a solution valuable to your business.
Fusion Software, established in 2002 and part-owned by BBD Group, the South African tech giant, has a select pool of exceptionally talented and motivated tech experts to evolve customized, cost-effective, scalable software solutions for your business needs. Our local presence guarantees flexibility and quickness in our response to your needs. Our processes are driven by our passion for path- breaking, domain-specific technologies to craft insightful IT solutions to unique problems.