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Navigating the Web of Enterprise System Selections and Outsourced Software

December 31, 2018

We would all love to push a button and have all of our troubles melt away. However, in the world of business and technology, it’s short-sighted to think that one system will stand alone as the solutions to the problems all businesses face. However, with some forward thinking and strategic planning, we can create technology solutions that lift businesses up. Let’s dive into the world of enterprise systems and learn how to effectively select and implement strategic technology solutions that will both make and save money for your business.

Approach the Problem Holistically

We’ve talked about the importance of thinking about your business process when it comes to enterprise systems. In today’s age, nothing exists as a standalone system anymore. Emails need to be connected to POs, POs connected to marketing and production, the list goes on. It’s just like being at a doctor’s office. If your wrist is broken, they still take your blood pressure. This helps doctors get the entire story and the same goes with your business. You want to look at the entire business process, software integration, and people behind the screen before you choose the enterprise solution that’s right for you.

Build vs. Buy

It seems as if everyone these days has cloud-based software at the ready to solve all of your business problems. These subscription-based businesses claim to be a one-stop shop, but problems arise quickly, as many of these solutions don’t communicate well with one another. To make matters worse, they don’t solve every problem and are often rigid, without room for customization. This means you’ll have many disjointed parts that can’t share information.

On the other end of the spectrum is customized software technology that integrates into every aspect of your business, but these solutions cost a pretty penny, and if they aren’t adopted by your team, they are a huge waste of resources (and can even make current issues worse). So what do you do?

Start by examining why you need a particular software solution. Are you looking for a band-aid to put on a problem until you can dedicate more time to it? Are you a startup looking for an easy solution to a small problem? Perhaps you’re on a tight budget. In that case, a quick, cloud-based software may be your best bet. If you’re a tech company or engaged in a highly refined process that needs loads of customization (but your business process is like a well-oiled machine), a customizable software package might be for you. Most of us fall in between these two extremes and need to strike a balance between efficiency, cost, and management.

The Problem with Cheap, Fast, and Right

That balance brings us to our next point: who doesn’t want something that’s cheap, fast, and right? Well, it turns out that this is an enterprise solution unicorn, it simply doesn’t exist. You can have things be fast and right, but that will come at a price. Cheap solutions might not be correct and leave major loopholes.

We start by evaluating your business needs. Just because one software works for your competitors doesn’t mean it’s right for you. This evaluation is in-depth and custom to you, similar to an audit. What is your process and where are the strong points? Weaknesses? If your business process doesn’t work and you implement a CRM it’s not going to fix a flawed process- you’re simply automating current frustrations! Identifying your individual needs allows an enterprise solution to work with you, not cause a bigger headache.

Evaluate Economies of Scale

There are advantages to having everything in one place, even if it comes with a larger price tag. First, the database is in one location, making things easier to manage, manipulate, and customize. The result creates an easier way to scale the business, but it doesn’t work for everyone. More components are better as long as they meet business needs. Getting carried away adding every bell and whistle will not only increase your overall cost, but it becomes a bigger pain to train people and manage.

Customized solutions work well if your business uses its tech as an asset, so having those extra features is helpful with sales and business worth (as long as they are maintained appropriately). Again, it comes back to looking at the problem holistically and balancing cheap, fast and right.

Internal Advocacy, Buy-in, and Upkeep

Technology doesn’t work unless the people operating it believe in it. You could have an extensive, custom-built inventory system, but if your warehouse guy is going to keep a tally in a paper ledger, the tech isn’t doing anything for you. It’s important to promote advocacy for enterprise solution adoption.

Your people (arguably your best strategic multiplier) need to believe in the solution you’re providing. Often times, this means taking time out of normal business operations to properly educate them on the technology. Education needs to be performed in a way that shows how the new process is better than the way they are used to doing things. Even though the answer may be obvious to you, it’s often difficult to get people to change their habits. Buy-in matters and a plan needs to be implemented into the introduction of new technology.

Once the enterprise solution is rolled out, you can’t just be done with it. These systems take management and forward thinking. Go into the process with a three to a five-year vision and involve personnel to be accountable for its success. This can be a CTO, subject matter expert, manager or someone who is otherwise vested in successful outcomes attached to the system to champion new technology.

Enterprise Solutions Require Thought

Unfortunately, there is no ‘easy’ button when it comes to enterprise solutions for your business. However, with forward-thinking, strategic planning, and thoughtful evaluation, you will achieve a viable technology solution that fits just right for your business.

Contact us today for support in selecting your next technology solution- we offer independent advice and a wide variety of partners to support implementation!

 

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