Business Strategy: How to Evaluate New Software Systems for Your Organization
Publishing companies of all sizes often spend significant time and money on software service contracts and IT training, assuming that their current systems—whatever they are—will continue to support not only back-office functionality, but editorial, marketing, sales, production, warehousing and e-commerce functionality as well. In the best of all worlds, they will. But at what cost?
Many companies augment their formal systems and databases with home-grown databases, especially lists of various types held in multiple Excel worksheets belonging to multiple staff members. In most cases, these subterranean databases are unknown to other staffers, even though the databases may be posted to a company intranet. In almost every case, these personal databases are not tied into the formal software. (The term “database” is used loosely here to define any collection of data that provides information to a user, however simple or complex.) Typically, home-grown databases are often functionally duplicated across the business. We have had clients, for instance, where the personnel head count has been exceeded by the number of separate databases. The result is usually highly inefficient, often dangerously insecure systems.
How should your company evaluate its current software situation and determine if you need to upgrade or replace it entirely? The first part in this special two-part series provides a step-by-step method to approach this critical task.
The Decision Phase: Recognize the Need to Do Something
How does a company come to the decision that its current software may be outdated or ineffective?
Step 1. Look for triggers.
A trigger is a business event that indicates that the organization is not getting the key information it needs to make both daily and long-term decisions. For example, you may be having trouble tracking your editorial or production flow; or, you may be getting increased volumes of return mail from dated customer addresses.