The Path to Success!

We’ve put together a quick guide, over a series of blog posts with the key steps to help you select the best crm and mrp system for your business.  In this blog we will look at the ways to clearly define your priorities, pick an effective project lead and start to consider the software options. 

In our last blog we looked at the ways projects fail, the first steps, how to define your objectives and vision and how to get your teams aligned to ensure success, now we need to move forward with the project,

Step 3 Clearly Define your Priorities

Most business software systems can solve problems right across your business – Stock, Sales, Assembly, Service, Accounting.

If you are like most business, you probably have limited capacity to adopt a new system or devote someone completely to drive the project: so you’ll need to prioritise.

Look at your process and, preferably in consultation with your team leaders, ask:

  • What is your biggest problem? How much is it costing you?
  • Where are the bottlenecks? What would you solve first?
  • Can you release valuable team members’ time by reducing the admin they need to do currently?
  • Where does your current process demand the most admin time? How much does this time cost your business?
  • What is the opportunity cost of not investing in a new system?

Often the answer is simple, but by looking at the process with your team, you can make decisions about what will have the most short and longer term impact. With these agreed, you’re ready to test how available software systems will enable you to achieve quick wins and release capacity for the bigger picture.

Step 4 Pick an effective project leader

Many companies make the mistake of either appointing a junior person to manage the project, or handing it to IT. Both of these will fail to deliver on the desired results. This is not simply an IT project installing software.  Its about change management and motivating your team.

This transformation project is a leadership task, aided by senior and experienced people across the business. The new system will support and enable the decision making in your business, never mind the day to day workflows and information capture. The leader should be part of the senior management team, with a thirst for improvement, a thorough knowledge of the business, and the authority to across the business to effect change.

The above tasks of goal setting, process mapping and prioritisation may have been led by this person already. Your project leader will use these to position and reinforce the change project in the business. Its commonly said “if it doesn’t hurt the business in the short term to have that person leading the project, then you’ve picked the wrong person”.

Step 5 Choosing the software

With the previous steps, you have armed yourself with a good understanding of your requirements – and put yourself head-and-shoulders above most other companies considering the same problem.

Many businesses jump in at this step and its one of the reasons projects hit so many hurdles, without a clear definition of what you want and your main priorities in the business how can you expect the App to provide it?

Now, you’re armed with your requirements, you can test these against the options available, and also consider the suitability of implementation services provided by each one.

What questions should you ask?

  • Should we find one system that does everything, or pick packages that do certain tasks well, and integrate them?
  • Talk to colleagues in the industry and ask for suggestions
  • Watch videos and see what products feel like to use
  • Most vendors offer free demos or trials. Sign up and try a few in context of your process. Be prepared to use your own data and attempt to work through your process using it, referring to your priorities above.
  • Check and examine feature lists of prospective vendors online for essentials and ‘nice to haves’. These can include integrations with existing software, like your accounts package.
  • Check the support available to get you up and running and ongoing support (and associated costs) that are available
  • Figure out your budget. How much will the product save your business? What advantages will it bring?
  • Finally, shortlist the solutions that meet your needs.

Once you have your App short list you can then move forward to testing and implementation plan.  In our next blog “Light at the end of the tunnel” we will review the steps at this stage to ensure a successful project.