.... Innovative IT Consulting helps small and mid-size companies use technology to facilitate growth and increase profitability. We are specialists in the Process Industries.
November, 2006

In the October Issue of Innovative Thinking, we launched a 2-part series on software selection, starting with the In's and Out's. In this issue, we complete the series on software selection - with the Do's and Don'ts. Software strategy-- build vs. buy, best-of-breed vs. integrated, major vendor vs. niche player --continues to be a critical issue for growing enterprises.

Don't miss our What's new section. Our blog participation is GROWING! Have fun with this month's WORD SCRAMBLE feature. If you're an Adonix user, make sure you attend the Adonix user's conference in Pittsburgh on 11/15-11/17, your opportunity to hear and see what's going on with Adonix, ask questions and network with other Adonix users.

The Do's and Don'ts of Software Selection. (Part 2 of a 2 part series) By John Pellegrino, Principal, Innovative IT Consulting, LLC. John can be reached at 631-549-1685 or jpellegrino@innovativeitc.com.

You've decided to do it, now do it right! Through some formal or informal process you've decided that it's time to purchase a software application to help you run and grow your company. Whether you are a relatively small company replacing a manual operation with a computerized application for the first time or a larger company that has outgrown the current mission critical software the challenges you face are very much alike.

First things first. The first challenge is to select the correct package for your company. This is not as straightforward as it sounds! To kick off our list of Do's and Don'ts, here's the first one.

Do look for a package, don't look at packages. This is probably the biggest mistake that most people make. The common conception of the first step in the selection process is to start looking at what is available in the market. This is certainly an important step, but it is not the first step (see last month’s article – looking starts at step 3). This leads you to looking at packages without knowing what you are looking for in a package. Take some time to develop a list of key requirements of the organization. Discuss the needs of other people within your company to help generate a complete list of requirements. Then look at what is available with this list in hand. You can pare down the list of possibilities with much more confidence that whichever package you choose will do what you need it to do.

Don't see the vendor's canned demo, do script your own. At some point in the process you have narrowed the choices down to your “short” list and you want to see these packages in action via some form of demo (on site at your facility, off site at the vendor, or through an Internet conference). Each vendor and software package has their own set of items that they handle exceptionally well. If you let them run the demo fully you will see all of these. However, you want to judge the packages based on what you need it to do well, based on your requirements. Although it is fine to allow the vendor to have some of the allotted demo time, 10 – 20%, to show the best of the package, it is important to script the demo so that you see how it handles your needs. In this way you will be able to compare the merits of each of the packages.

Don’t make this an IT project, do make it a business project. Many companies feel that anything on a computer is the purview of the Information Technology Department. However, people in many other areas of your company will use the package to do their job better. This can include many areas of your organization; accounting, operations, clerical, and management. These are the people that help run your business. This is a business project and your most trusted business people should participate in the selection process. They, and the people within their areas, will be using the application on a daily basis so it is important that they help decide which package is the right one for them.

Do involve IT, don’t forget their requirements. Some companies make the opposite mistake and allow the business people to select the package and then leave it to the Information Technology Department to sort out the details of getting it installed and useable. Although the business requirements are paramount in a package it is also important to consider the technology the package uses. You want to make sure that it uses well-known de facto standards. In some cases you may want a package that uses technology your staff is already familiar with. In other words, the technology (the database it uses, the platform it resides on, etc.) is one set of your requirements. Likewise, other items not related to your business need to be addressed, such as technical support, stability of vendor, etc. Your Information Technology person will make sure that these are on the list you develop before you start looking at packages.

Do plan for the future, don’t ignore it. This is a little more subtle than the other do’s and don’ts mentioned, but it can lead to a quick dead end. Don’t look at the requirements of a narrowly focused set of needs that you plan on implementing first. For example, if you plan on using the package for your accounting needs first you may be tempted to only review packages based on those requirements. However, this could lead you to select a package that is good for your accounting, but not good for your operations. As you grow with the package you select you will want to continue to get the most benefit out of it. Consider requirements based on other potential uses of the package, and, if possible, consider requirements that may be needed based on any company growth strategies.

Tip of the Month

How do I know that I'm not missing the best solution for my company?
By Paul Sita, Ph.D, Principal, Innovative IT Consulting, LLC. Paul can be reached at 631-549-1685 or psita@innovativeitc.com.

Clients frequently ask us this question. They've heard the names of some software packages, and they know the big names, but sometimes what's holding them back is they're not sure if there is a better solution that they are not aware of. Here's some tips to follow.

  • Refer to industry assoications or organizations related to your particular industry. Many of them maintain a list of software solutions and vendors.
  • Talk to a few of your peers or friendly competitors. Don't just ask them what software they're using, ask them what they considered when they were looking and why they settled on what they purchased.
  • Check the web for leading conferences and conventions related to your industry. Chances are that many of the software solution providers have booths at the conference.
  • Hire a consultant. (Ok I have to say this). But it's true. Consultants who have worked in your industry or segment are exposed to more solutions than you are. And in many cases, they have access to proprietary databases and sources that are subscription based.

Don't be afraid to ask some of the vendors who their primary competitors are! In most cases you'll get honest answers!

What's new?. Blog update.

Blog traffic continues to grow. That's a good thing.(see links below) Most visitors are shy about commenting. That's a bad thing. Don't forget to sign up and get updates delivered right to your in box.

Innovative ERP Strategies (www.innovativeitc.typepad.com) and The Adonix X3 Community

John Pellegrino will be presenting a workshop on Creating a Sales Information Portal at the Adonix users conference together with our client Finlandia Cheese. Check the Adonix web site for scheduling information. If you'd like a copy of this presentation, please contact us.

Welcome to Metro Door. Innovative is pleased to welcome Metro Door to the Innovative family of clients. Innovative will be helping Metro implement SAP Business One, along with Premier Results, an SAP Business One VAR.

Word Scramble time.
“A demonstration of ERP software tailored to your specific business scenarios and processes.” (2 words)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ M P T I C D O S R E E D
Answer to last month's word scramble.

“Confirming the claims and capabilities of a proposed software solutions." (VALIDATION)

A Look Ahead To Next Month

In December, don't miss our popular Predictions for the New Year!

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Innovative IT Consulting, LLC
(631) 549-1685