Business Strategy: How to Evaluate New Software Systems for Your Organization
This phase has three primary goals:
1. To determine what kind of information can and cannot easily be extracted from the system(s). For instance, what were our total sales to Amazon for 2007 by month and by product channel?
2. To determine why information is hard to obtain. Is it a technical issue or perhaps inadequate IT staff training? You may find, for example, many issues are a product of servers or files that do not/cannot communicate with each other.
3. To determine which processes (automated and manual) work and will work going forward. It is possible that, even with explanation, current processes are hard to follow and will need to be re-engineered. It is also possible that they may, in their simplicity, easily provide a manual road map to automation.
This phase of the software evaluation project is the most crucial because:
• Decisions based on the analysis are used to define the project’s overall scope.
• The analysis can provide management with forward-planning options to phase in any systems envisioned for larger projects over multiple financial years—easing the cash-flow burden to some extent.
• It will clearly define the age of the current technology and whether it will synergize with the new technologies.
• It sets the stage for “Proof of Concept” testing, which may be comprised of various business scenarios that surface during this phase.
A thoughtful analysis can, in the long term, save substantial investment dollars and predict a realistic project time line.
The Selection Phase
Within the selection phase, a number of options exist.
Step 1. Identify software solutions best-suited to address the problems you’ve identified in phases 1 and 2.
This can be done in a variety of ways, but the best way is to talk to your peers and check Web sites such as Capterra.com and KensailTD.com.
Attending events such as the Publishing Business Conference & Expo, held in March each year (March 23-25, 2009), Book Expo America, and other key publishing conferences will put you in touch with those who can help you, whether your need is a full-solution system or software specific to a functional area, such as a warehouse module or digital asset management module.