Businesses are being inundated with the same message – get with the digital programme immediately or face being left behind. Many leaders have already accepted the case for change but remain paralysed by a fear of things not going according to plan. It is a shame because businesses who have already successfully completed their digital transformation are reporting great results.
So how do we break through the fear barrier and avoid those expensive business software mistakes? The answer is to get informed and this article will help by offering you valuable pointers on;
- How to choose a tech partner you can trust
- How to pick a software solution that’s right for you
- What to look out for along the way
- How to maintain great relationships in the future
If you get it right you can look forward to a more efficient and profitable business while gaining important insights into your own processes.
As part of a team of consultants who work with small to medium sized businesses every day, we find it useful to talk about the Four Ps – it helps to break down and isolate exactly what it is you need to do to avoid those costly mistakes and get your business software choices right. The four Ps stand for – Preparation, Partnership, People, and Processes. Let’s look at them in order.
There’s a business cliché that says when you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail and like most clichés, it is based on solid truth. A successful business software implementation is all about the preparation. Whether it is doing your initial research on possible solutions and vendors or preparing your data for migration – it is all in the groundwork. We advise picking a strong team to lead that work including someone senior enough to make buying decisions. Start your search online, talk to people who have been through a similar process or go to exhibitions – you need to find out as much as possible about what is out there first. Then narrow your choices down to a short list and spend time with the vendors discussing what their solution can do for YOU.
A good partner won’t just sell you a solution, they will act as a management consultant, digital guru, and collaborator.
Picking the right partner will be your salvation – it’s our number 1 tip beyond all the others for getting this right. A good partner won’t just sell you a solution, they will act as a management consultant, digital guru, and collaborator. Plus – if you choose right, they will stick with you and help you into the future. Powerful business software, even ERP designed for small and medium-sized businesses can be a big step up for many companies and you will need help finding your way around it. We, for example, sell and implement an SAP cloud-based solution for small and medium-sized businesses called SAP Business ByDesign. The benefits of SAP Business ByDesign are great but you may take some time to fully appreciate everything it can do – look out for a partner who will support you with Customer Days, User Forums or a Help Desk.
It really pays to have an ongoing relationship with your vendor. You never know when you might need them!
Your people are your number one resource so make sure you are bringing them with you every step of the way. If you think only in terms of “users” then you might be surprised when they don’t feel motivated to understand or use the new system. It is important to take the time to explain how your new business software fits in with your vision for the company. For example, your staff may be interested to discover that by automating some of the more boring routine tasks, their time could be freed up to do something more creative.
Most companies drastically under-estimate just how big the change is going to be, so set realistic deadlines and don’t expect to get buy-in overnight – it might take some time to get it right. And one more thing – do dedicate sufficient resources – look into the costs involved insufficient training.
Processes and Plans
To get a solution that is right for you, you will need to spend time talking to your vendor about your needs. Complex on-premise ERP may still be the way to go for big enterprise, but most people these days opt for a cloud-based solution that manages everything from finances to ordering and billing. This offers a great deal for businesses of all sizes because data is stored off-premise in highly secure servers and you don’t have to worry about IT specialists and software updates – all that is taken care of by your provider. You will be paying by subscription for a certain number of users but there is no hardware or capital costs.
The software that you choose will frequently be ready to go “out of the box” but it can still be configured to suit your particular requirements. In fact, it will be essential for you and your new software partner to spend time going over your business processes. Many growing businesses aren’t yet sure exactly what they are, so much has been done on the fly up until now – but as you grow it is important to standardise how you do things so you can scale up more easily.
This is where you can really benefit from tapping into the experience of your partner who can call on examples of best practice across your industry to get everything optimised for you. Many people liken the experience to working with management consultants but without the price tag.
By sharing your roadmap with your partners you can make sure that you have everything in place for your future requirements – maybe you are planning to trade in several different currencies, or are thinking of setting up a warehouse overseas? Sharing your plans is all part of the process of getting to know you and many people find it very useful.
And finally, we advise you to test It! It’s not just about the demonstration model you saw in early meetings – the real-life version has to work for you, so take the time to run it out.
A successful future
If you follow these ground rules you should be all set for a successful digital future.
It can be tempting to choose the first business software partner that comes along, but it’s important to look past the initial sales pitch and decide on a team you can work with. Make sure you are inquisitive and ask as many questions as possible – then you can look forward to a success