Buying a large enterprise software system is not something that many organizations do on a regular basis. While software vendors are constantly hyping the benefits of their particular system, buyers do not necessarily have the background needed to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Fortunately there are consultants dedicated to putting their industry knowledge to the service of the purchaser. These consultants provide impartial information and guidance to level the playing field and put the purchaser on the correct track to making an informed decision.
What follows are five specific reasons for considering the services of a selection consultant when faced with the acquisition of a major software system.
1. Select the most appropriate system that fits your requirements
This is the essential benefit that the selection consultant can bring and the final objective of the exercise. Selection consultants can provide personnel, information, methods, and tools to guide the people within the buying organization toward an informed accurate decision.
2. Find a structured way to involve key users in the selection process
Acquiring an enterprise software system is really a business process rather than an IT process. Key stakeholders in all areas of the organization will be affected and will make or break the acquisition. Identifying and involving key representatives from the affected areas will go a long way toward creating buy-in, and will contribute to the success of the implementation and subsequent operation. Selection consultants provide clear and structured means to involve these key users in ways that provide a real contribution without overly affecting their daily activities.
3. Educate key users on what is available in the market
Defining requirements can be very tricky. Asking key users, even if they are highly competent in their areas, may result in a good indication of present business processes and evident pain points, but may miss important areas and requirements needed to cover future vision.
Selection consultants can provide information on what is available on the market. It is much easier for users to review existing features and simply indicate what is absolutely needed, nice to have, or not relevant. This process can considerably broaden the scope of the requirements-gathering exercise and lessen the possibility that some major elements will be forgotten.
4. Establish better control over the sales cycle
Selection consultants bring their industry knowledge and experience over many acquisition projects to bear. They can inform the buyer on the best strategies for getting a good price for their software, and negotiate a professional services contract that covers the needs of the purchaser and ensures the resources assigned are well supported. Software purchasers with the help of the selection consultant can feel confident that they know how to face the vendors and get the best deal for their organization.
5. Set the basis for implementation success
Software acquisition is only one of the many steps needed to enjoy the benefits of a good software system. The organization must first decide that such a system is needed and that it will significantly contribute to the organization’s continuing success. Second, it must select and acquire the most appropriate system. It must then install and integrate the system within the organization. This integration or implementation is highly dependent on user involvement, correct configuration and user training. These are greatly enhanced when the selection process is clear to all and the final decision shared or at least understood.