For brick and mortar companies, software purchases make up the second largest capital expenditure that the company will assume. In today’s world, software applications run businesses. As such, these decisions are critical to the success of organizations. While a successful purchase may not make a career, a poor decision can negatively impact it. How do you effectively make the decision regarding the purchase of a solution for your business, without creating a fretful situation to loom over you?
Years ago, when software applications first began to appear, there was no guarantee that every area of your organization was covered. Even if it were, there were separate applications for Marketing, Operations and Finance, and they did not talk to one another. The maturity and complexity of business processes today demand either an integrated system at one end of the spectrum or many interconnected solutions at the other end of that continuum.
The new age of integration impacts all software solutions. Providers tout themselves as an integrated solution capable of managing your business, or proclaim to be “best of breed” in a single functionality while able to integrate with broader platforms. Many newer packages have an “Integrations” tab on their main menu to underscore how critical this is.
The use of software and technology, whether in a single system or in tandem with others, offers tremendous benefits to your organization and your partners and customers. The data flow means that one change now permeates your entire delivery landscape, and there is exactly one version of that “truth.” By building in best practices in how data gets entered or modified, efficiencies of process begin to take over.
Any software purchase can bring sleepless nights and countless heated boardroom conversations. Even in today’s SaaS dominated world, choosing the right software remains absolutely critical, as there are no “do-overs” when it comes to the changes occurring to business processes and fundamental changes to your business that happen when new software arrives.
The question of purchasing an integrated platform or going with multiple single function solutions can create a paralysis for the buyer. Begin by taking stock of your business processes – your procedures, your goals, and most importantly, your stakeholders. The financial implications will be easy to spot. You may save money by purchasing a single solution up front. Perhaps you only need a single solution to round out your portfolio, however, the benefit of the cost savings could be eaten up by the cost of integration and maintaining multiple solutions, as well as the impact to your staff on adding one more system to their lives.
You must understand what your team and your customers really need. Is this to fill a specialization point? Does it need a public facing component? Does it come with a mobile app? Will it help you expand your brand? While you are purchasing today, keep tomorrow in mind. It comes down to four key points:
- Control – where will the data live?
- Staffing – do you have the team to support it?
- Integration – will it play nicely with other solutions?
- Access – how can people get into it?
As you navigate the sales process, make sure that your needs statement accurately depicts your most important items. You need to properly differentiate between mission-critical functionality and wish list items, which should only be used as a tiebreaker. Phrase the features so that the response returns as a “Yes,” “No,” or “Customization.” Ask more questions than your sales representative, in order to ensure a proper fit. When reviewing best of breed, ask for examples of standard integrations with other solutions and compare that to which integrations with your other software would be custom (and likely more costly to create and to maintain).
In the end, make yourself a hero! Make the correct software purchase and go ahead and order that cape at the same time!
Check out our recent presentation to see how an integrated solution will help you: