Software Decision: Value Proposition
In the first two parts of this article, we examined the background on purchasing a “best of breed” versus an integrated solution, followed by the infrastructure questions that needed answering. In the final installment of the Software Decision, we look at the Value Proposition.
To remain competitive in today’s marketplace, companies need to effectively leverage the right software(s) to run their business and activities. The type of market in which your company operates is as impactful as the software’s value proposition itself.
The breadth of the market in which your company operates does not necessarily correlate to the variety of products available to manage your work. If there are fewer software options available, you have less opportunity to use different tools to find a competitive advantage via software. In a market with a wider selection of solutions available, your team needs to assess whether a different software would provide a niche for your company versus your competition. Likewise, your decision can also be affected by the number of competitors that exist within your marketplace to begin with.
Features/Ease of Use
Any software solution will likely have functionality that sounds great, but may not actually create efficiencies for your team. Critically determine what is a must for your team to have, and do not get caught up in adding features that you may not use for months or years. In today’s SaaS world, the power has shifted back to the buyer! If the package is priced by users and/or features, only use what you need right now, while keeping in mind that steep discounts may apply if purchased up front to further cloud your decision. Does your organization already offer or foresee the need to move to an e-commerce solution? Finally, what is the need for remote access via the internet, versus all activity taking place only within your offices?
Portability of Data
If your organization has to maintain separate solutions for the business (Membership, Financials, or other data), you need a solution that can easily send or receive data from other systems. While this point is somewhat related to the Integration section noted in Part 2, in some situations, the business unit purchasing the software is only a small segment of the overall company and as such it will require multiple solutions to manage the entire spectrum of business operations. Additionally, are there existing resources on your team to manage these integrations as well? If the solutions are unable to speak to each other for either reason, this is a critical red flag in today’s environment.
The exercise of selecting a new solution can be exhausting, and you may feel a sense of relief when the purchase is complete. The bad news? The work really has only just begun. One frequently overlooked part of a solutions purchase is the concept of user adoption. No solution eliminates problems by itself. Without the users taking charge of the solution and making good on the investment, you may be worse off than before, due to the lack of a solution and the resulting frustration from the procurement team, management, and even the end users themselves. The best practice is to name a project manager to effectively ensure a successful adoption rate for future success.
These three articles attempt to underscore the gravity of making a software purchase, and the resulting efforts required to make the purchase a successful one. A new and robust solution, the byproduct of a careful selection process, coupled with the right infrastructure, and adhering to an effective value proposition, and puts your team on a path to effectively managing your business.
Have additional questions about the software selection process? Don't hesitate to contact Ungerboeck.