Business Strategy: How to Evaluate New Software Systems for Your Organization
In most cases, the needs articulated by the end-users will be excellent representations of the real needs and deficiencies of the company and its technology.
• IT: They can be the catalyst to maximizing your current system as well as providing key input on new or proposed systems. In today’s economic climate, IT departments are reactively stretched. They are almost always expected to solve the staff’s daily technology problems. And while this is fine for the most part, it allows IT staffers little time for systems analysis or forward planning.
One IT position often neglected, but almost always required, is that of the applications manager. An applications manager should have intimate knowledge of what the business does as well as how the business does it. An applications manager usually has responsibility for oversight of all applications running within the business, screening and approving new application-purchase requests, and analyzing current applications for upgrade or replacement. An applications manager is key because he or she can see the whole IT picture across the organization. For example, marketing may request a new survey software package, but the applications manager would know that such a package already exists in another department, eliminating the duplication of software and cost.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line of any software system review and plan is that management must base its decision on metrics that make sense to the company. It is management’s obligation, and in its best interest, to be responsive to a presented need, particularly if that need directly or indirectly relates to net profitability or surplus.
Bottom-line impact is usually clear—it is easy to apply metrics to sales or the number of books shipped and returned. Software can certainly be measured in the number of users, investment cost, modifications or data conversion.
But indirect relationships often are overlooked. The effectiveness or the quality of information available to the organization, or the length of time needed to get to the core information, can’t be directly measured.