If you’ve been tasked by your manager to start researching new software systems, you know that this can be a difficult project. This is especially true if your boss has not given you a lot of information or direction. Are you working with a budget? What functions do you want the software to manage? Will a new system replace existing software? Trying to find and recommend solutions without a lot of information from your boss can be tough, and once you do find a couple of options, which one do you recommend? The system with all the bells and whistles? Or the one that is the best price? We’ve put together a list of tips and tricks to help you recommend the right software to your boss.
Follow these steps to help you recommend the best software to your boss:
- Gather Internal Information
- Start Your Research
- Present the Information
- Involve Decision-Makers
Gather Internal Information
If your boss has not given you a lot direction on what to look for, you can easily perform your own internal research by speaking with your colleagues. It’s likely that you already know where each department experiences the most pain when it comes to existing processes and your colleagues may be more willing to share their true feelings with you as opposed to the boss. Ask your colleagues what causes them the most stress every day, on what tasks they spend the most time and if they have any concerns about existing processes. For example, do employees spend a lot of their time…
- Manually entering data into multiple systems?
- Correcting mistakes?
- Looking for inventory items and keeping track of products?
- Following up with customer accounts to collect payments for overdue invoices?
- Pulling information from multiple systems for reporting?
Once you learn more about how employees spend their time, you will be able to prioritize what is most important in a new software system.
Start Your Research
Now that you know what is most important to your team, it’s time to start researching vendors that can help address some of the issues identified above. For example, if one of the biggest pain points is having to enter information into multiple systems, make sure you find an all-in-one inventory and accounting ERP solution to avoid duplicate data entry. When it comes to budget, if you don’t have a specific price range for the project, try to find a couple options on each end of the budget spectrum to be able to give an accurate comparison to your boss in terms of costs vs. benefits. While budget is important, so too is finding the right system that can help save time and money throughout other parts of the business. There is no point in making a change if it’s not going to provide any efficiencies.
Present the Information
Once you have gathered information on 4-5 vendors, turn the information into a presentable format to share with management. One of the best ways to present information is to turn software features and benefits into quantitative values. For example, how many hours will you save with automated reporting tools? How much faster will you be able to ship product with proper warehouse management and how will this impact sales? Will you be able to save on hiring more staff when order volume increases with an all-in-one system? It’s important to present the information in a way that translates into internal benefits for the company.
Involve Decision-Makers in Next Steps
Once you’ve presented the information to the management team and your boss, make sure to involve these decision-makers in the next steps. Narrow down your list to 2-3 vendors and continue through the sales process to learn more about each option. Be wary of jumping into a demo before the decision-maker is involved and all aspects of the business have been discussed. While most software systems in the same tier will be able to provide similar functionality for inventory and accounting, you want to find a software vendor that actually takes the time to learn about your specific business processes and how to help, instead of just trying to impress you with all the bells and whistles.
**Bonus Tip: Don’t Waste Your Time**
While everyone usually has good intentions when starting their search for new software, sometimes it’s a result of an immediate pain point or current issue, as opposed to a strategic investment. If you feel like this is the case, and that the decision-makers are not actually onboard to make a change, don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions to try to figure this out. Does the company have a timeline for implementing a new system? Who will be in charge of managing the implementation, training and go-live process? What will the result be if you don’t make a decision? Is the search a priority? Make sure you determine if your boss is actively looking for a system and engaged in the search process before wasting too much time researching vendors.