How many users do you currently have and expect to have in three to five years? Compare this number to the existing user base of each package. Use the Guide to review the full range of users as well as the "sweet spot"where the majority of the software users fall. Don't under buy or overbuy!
Does the technology profile match what your IT department or consultants can support?
How much can you spend? The entry price is provided as a starting point. This is the least expense, most stripped down version of the product. If this amount is already a stretch you may not be able to sustain the investment needed to be successful.
Does the vendor have domain expertise in your vertical market?
You can visit www.software4distributors.com to do a side-by-side comparison of these criteria. Here you will find information about user size, technology profile, entry price point and vertical markets for this purpose.
Use Business Process Driven Requirements To Get A Short List Back in the dark ages when we first started publishing the Software Guide, not all vendors satisfied what we considered to be "core functionality"like order management, inventory replenishment and warehouse management. When we issued RFP's we would include a list of features for the vendors to check off.
Then we would prioritize each feature and use a point system to score the functionality. In these engagements our scoring of the software functionality would tend to be along the lines of 92.5 percent, 90.1 percent, 89.3 percent and 87.2 percent. Is the first choice really that much better than the third choice? Should the 4th ranked package really be eliminated from consideration? From a qualitative perspective the answer was no.
But from a practical perspective we had to get to a short list, so the top three vendors would be invited to demonstrate their packages. But we know this is not the best solution. As a publisher, our one-on-one work with the software vendors allows us to discuss the latest issues and to gain valuable insight into their experiences with successful implementations.
Based upon our research we suggest the following changes to defining the requirements used to select the short list vendors:
Identify the business processes that are critical to your business. These processes are the ones that drive your competitive advantage. These processes consist of a series of events or actions.
Document the events that are included in those critical processes. This can reveal faults in your current processes that you need to correct. It provides a starting point for defining future process changes the software package must support. This documentation also provides a context for discussing process changes with the software vendors during the implementation planning sessions.
Separate functional requirements into two groups -commodity and differentiating. Commodity functionality are the functions and processes (such as financial accounting or human resource management) that are similar from package to package and don't provide a competitive advantage. Differentiating functionality (order taking processes, gross margin maximization, or inventory replenishment) are the functions and processes that create competitive advantage.
Devote 80 percent of your software evaluation time to the differentiating functionality. This will allow both the software vendor and your project team to be more efficient and complete their work faster by reducing the volume of information that you will have to review and understand.
Rank the functionality based on quality of the vendor process, not just its existence.