Successful digital transformation demands the right solutions. The introduction of enterprise software has yielded compelling benefits across all types of industries. Productivity, profits, agility, and customer satisfaction soars, resource management improves drastically and the insights into customer behavior are unparalleled. It begs the question; why are businesses slow to adopt new software solutions?
The answer is simple: the decision making process is protracted, is rife with bias, and carries huge decision risk. CIOs and tech departments are trying to satisfy an increasing list of needs while vendors and market comparison sites are still offering the solutions that benefit their commissions most. It is as though you make your order at a restaurant but instead of what you asked for, you get the highest price menu option even though you might be allergic.
A disconnect between buyer and provider is turning people away from potential business saving software. In this time of economic instability, opportunities and solutions are of paramount importance.
“Executives face an increasingly complex landscape of technologies, methodologies, and both regulatory and compliance pressures to ensure that new processes are standardized and traceable.” McKinsey Report.
What difference could the right enterprise software solution make to your business?
The losers in all of this are the buyer and often the end user losing out on cost-saving and process improvements are two of the biggest risks. Take your average honest mechanic. They survey your car, diagnose what is wrong, and present you with the information before fixing it. This is what having the right software solution is like. You get up-to-date reports on various systems from operational processes to marketing campaigns empowering you to make decisions.
Does your business have efficiency issues? Are you losing time and money in different assembly phases? What would you do if you could track your customer buying patterns effectively?
Olive scythes through all the BS. The process of buying the right software can take up to 2 years in many cases and still not be the right solution for you. Olive starts with your needs and goes to the market on your behalf to find what fits. Compared to the typical 6-12 month evaluation cycles, Olive’s typical evaluation time from idea to decision is 6 weeks. Unlike other platforms, we are not beholden to fee-paying vendors as we don’t collect commission to feature their solution. This means that the right vendor for you isn’t excluded simply because they are not paying to influence. This allows you to get right to work on reaping the biggest benefits of your digital transformation.
How to choose the best enterprise software solution for your business?
If you have faced the arduous task of making a digital transformation before, you undoubtedly, have reservations about plundering financial and human resources into it again. While often laborious, the steps involved in making a software selection are vital, and skimming through would be a mistake. Let’s set the time, trust, and patience issues to the side for a moment.
Determine your requirements
While many vendors you might have come across are busy trying to stick square pegs in round holes, each business ought to remain true to its unique needs. Your unique organization may be thriving or obstructed by inefficiency; either way, there are always areas to innovate or improve.
Conduct an in-house analysis
Review your current processes, pain points, strengths, weaknesses, and any obstacles. Study your supply chains, customer’s buying journey, distribution channels, and even information sharing systems. Capture everything you can from the stakeholders to form a clear picture of what areas you are experiencing frustrations.
Perhaps your need is not pain but instead a desire to innovate and stay ahead of your competition. It is important to ask yourself questions to complete the next step of ranking your preferences:
- What are your business goals for the next 6, 12, or 18 months?
- What areas are expanding or contracting?
- Where do you foresee the market shifting to next year?
- What do you need to unlock a new market?
- What information would make life easier for the team?
Classify your business goals and rank your requirements collaboratively with stakeholders
In doing this study, you may unearth a litany of areas you think could be better. List each of them and put them on the board for discussion with the team. Now imagine you were at the doctor’s office and they asked you to rank your pain from mild inconvenience to imminent hospital visit. Discuss each issue as a pain, and attach a ranking in order of urgency.
If it is not a pain, how important is it for the future? Try to limit your list of number 1 priorities. Teams will rarely have full alignment so it is important to chair the discussions fairly and set a list of achievable goals.
Now you know what you need your software solution to do, you can set some filters.
Set parameters to guide choices
The reality of every company is making choices with limited resources. Your decision will be impacted by several variables. It helps to keep a list of features and demands required along with any other disqualifying factors.
– Cost v Value – Do they fit your budget? Is it important enough to spend a little extra? Does your forecast consider cost increases year after year?
– Needs – What are the non-negotiables? What would be nice but isn’t imperative? Does it solve your needs?
– Adaptability – Will your choice work within your current systems? Is it a simple integration or a potential time vacuum?
– After Care – Will you need a provider that conducts regular maintenance and troubleshooting?
This step is likely to have a before and after element in the shortlisting phase.
Develop a list of potentials
Here is where it can start to get a little taxing as you go into the market. The main goal is to find someone who resolves your aches and pains rather than dazzling you with flashy features.
In this step, leave no stone unturned as you search for providers. Investigate what others in your industry use or companies that encounter the same issues as you. Call them to ask. Check reviews and references and even YouTube demo videos if that is your thing. Remember, unbiased information is what you really need.
As with many industries, there are a host of market comparison platforms that look for the solution on your behalf. While helpful, this is where bias comes into play. Pay2Play style bias can be a problem with these platforms but a bigger problem is often that the reviews are generic and not tailored to your needs. This is where you can slip up, being pulled down a rabbit hole by vendors who were great for a bunch of large banks, but not great for your company size or industry.
Shortlisting the options
Pit each option against your parameters and eliminate those who will bring the least amount of value to your organization. Aim to whittle your list down to 3 or 4 alternatives if possible as the vetting process from here is more acute and time-consuming.
– How did they fare with your parameter list?
– How many of your priorities do they excel at?
– What ancillary benefits are available to improve on your issues?
– What are the potentially harmful shortcomings?
Drill into the shortlist and ask for a demo
If you have found yourself at this stage, great, keep the energy as there is light at the end of the tunnel. Remember, as you reach out to each vendor with an RFP, your needs are clear and must be satisfied.
Vendors typically prefer a simple evaluation process, and like to own the sales cycle but as the buyer you need certainty. It is well within your remit to ask for a demo.
Go back to the restaurant image, except at this stage you, the buyer, are now looking at the wine list. The customary practice is to be offered a taste to ensure it meets expectations. Most people nod approvingly regardless of satisfaction – avoid this. Even if the wine is made from grapes raised like children in the south of France, if it doesn’t suit you, send it back.
Bring a fellow taster with you from the office to confirm your preferences or suspicions and do keep an open mind.
Choosing the best enterprise software solution for your business
When buying software, judge a demo by how vendors answer your needs and not how impressive their features are if they are irrelevant. At all times, you are the end-user so all that matters is how effective your solution is. During demos and meetings with vendors, you can gain some great insights on things you may have missed in requirements gathering. But be careful, often these pieces of ‘education’ can pull you down a path that is great for that vendor, but not in line with your needs.
Consider asking the following questions either at or after your demo:
– How were your specific requirements demonstrated?
– Did you have a favorite and why?
– Which vendors researched you and/or called you afterward?
– Were they showing shiny objects or specific personalized features?
– What was the implementation and post-sale plan?
– Ultimately, does it improve your enterprise, and how?
Don’t Skip Any Steps
We are fully aware of how challenging the purchasing process is and how tempting it may be to skip a couple of steps. However, we urge you to avoid cutting corners as best as possible. We also guarantee that if you do cut corners to save time, you will end up spending even more time in implementation and driving user adoption. Prevention is better than cure!
If you are under a time constraint or are otherwise untrusting of the process, please reach out to Olive. We circumvent the most frustrating parts and condense the lengthy process on your behalf. We are not influenced by paying suppliers and our credibility is unquestioned. We aim to simplify the process for you, our client, and create a collaborative system to find an exact solution.
Get to a solution faster, with Olive
Software providers, while extraordinarily talented, have disrupted the balance of power in the sales funnel for buyers. Each potential buyer is a sale waiting to happen regardless of fit. Olive inverts that relationship, by bolstering your hand at the table.
We appreciate the career risk of making large scale software decisions on behalf of a multi-branch company and carry that understanding with us through the process. Furthermore, we know the benefits other clients have received from drastically reducing costs and man-hours, to streamlining processes and more effective systems. We have lived and breathed every win with our previous clients.
To ensure you receive the same, we discuss your needs to refine the exact answer you are looking for. We deliver a range of best-fit options within a timeframe that suits you and at a budget point that suits you.
Our loyalty to our clients is a defining part of our reputation and we aim to build more trust in the enterprise software solution buying process.
Find out more about how Olive Works.