Your organization has finally determined they are ready to change software solutions. This can happen for many different reasons and, depending on how well you prepare, can have many different outcomes. This guide will help walk you through the process of organizing your needs internally and properly vetting potential partners.
Step 1: Determine WHY
It is very important to know exactly why you need to make a change. Document the specific complaints from all different user types and roles. Complaints may range from annoyances to non-negotiables, and you will want to know the difference and be able to prioritize all items. Work to understand how each complaint affects the employee personally and the company as a whole. This information will tell you how urgent the change is, and give you outcomes you can measure.
Ex. I can’t get the information I need in a report and this means I must stay at work late to consolidate the information. Without this information being readily available, we may be making decisions that cost the company money, and our customers are unhappy with our response time.
Step 2: Determine HOW
Before you start this process, be sure to understand who will be involved in the decision-making process. Additionally, what is your time frame? How will your organization compare vendors? What is most important to these decision-makers? Look at how any other large purchases have been made by your company. Knowing this upfront can save you lots of stress when you are finally ready to commit to a purchase.
Step 3: Determine HOW MUCH
ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems for agribusinesses can vary widely in price based upon multiple factors, but it is important for your company to determine how much they are willing to spend on eliminating the pains compiled in Step 1. Consider if your company prefers “cloud” or on-premise software, and how that will affect your investment costs over time. Again, this will help you when you are comparing solutions down the road.
Step 4: Start Calling
Find other businesses similar to yours and give them a call. You may choose to contact companies from the next state over so you are not calling competitors. Let them know you are on the hunt for a new system and share your WHYS. Find out if you share the same problems, learn what they like and don’t like about their system, and ask for thoughts about their software partner. It is important to speak with someone in a similar role to ensure they are dealing with the same business processes.
Step 5: Engage potential partners
By this time, you should have acquired a list of vendors that your colleagues are using and that you believe can solve your problems. The hard part is done! Reach out to each vendor and share your WHYS, your timelines, and any concerns that came up from your conversations with other customers. Schedule a demo so you can see exactly how their products could address your specific business needs. Remember that when comparing potential software partners, it is also important to consider things like longevity of the company, the number of customers, if they offer user community/conferences, and support options.
Step 6: Commit
You have done all the necessary leg work to determine why you need a change, how much you can pay for this change, and what change you are going to commit to. You can feel confident knowing that your business will be better off in the long run. Keep these thoughts in mind when you are halfway through the implementation and you are tired of having two jobs and two systems! Push through to the end and embrace the many benefits your new software partner can provide you.