Software Selection Tips

It’s Still About Best Practices

When it’s time to evaluate vendors for your financial system, it’s essential to remember that you are ultimately choosing a sophisticated software application. Even with cloud-computing implementations, the basic process of vetting vendors remains unchanged.

Gather requirements. Carefully define and document your needs. Get input and gain consensus from key users in finance and related departments across the organization. Do you need to integrate with CRM systems? Talk to sales. Do you need to deploy new purchase requisition processes? Talk to accounts payable.

Identify top priorities and challenges. No system meets every need for every user. Determine which functionality and requirements are “musts” and rank them so that you can select the system which best fits your finance team’s unique needs.

Create an RFI/RFP. With requirements established, now’s the time to list your needs, expectations, and parameters on a Request for Proposal (RFP) form that you can send to a short list of vendors. Using the same form for all vendors will allow you to make an apples-to-apples comparison of solutions.

Research your options. Go online to develop a short list, sift through competing offerings, and comb through independent research and reviews. You can consult social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter to connect with people that are already using the products you are evaluating. For real-world reviews by actual users, check out Proformative, Trust Radius, and the Salesforce.com AppExchange.

Demo or trial from short list. There’s no substitute for careful evaluation of the user experience. But be sure to see how things work at the administrative level as well.

Focus on product fit. Don’t overlook the basic truth: Regardless of deployment model, there’s still no substitute for functional excellence. You need a financial system that offers the comprehensive, up-to-date features that modern organizations require. For instance, many companies find that multiple entity consolidation and project-based accounting are as essential as real-time reporting, process customization, automated approvals, and integration with other software products.

Check references, score, and select. Be sure you carefully screen vendor references. Make certain that vendors provide access to happy and successful customers, but don’t overlook online forums like the Salesforce.com AppExchange, where you can access unscreened, unfiltered feedback about vendor performance.

Additional Tips:

  • Implementation success
  • Operational track record
  • Data ownership
  • Infrastructure and security
  • ROI/TCO
  • Support Agreement
  • Service level agreements
  • Beware of steep upfront discounts
  • Factor in all variables to avoid surprises

When it’s time to evaluate vendors for your financial system, it’s essential to remember that you are ultimately choosing a sophisticated software application. Even with cloud-computing implementations, the basic process of vetting vendors remains unchanged.

 

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