Software Selection: How To Build a Strong Short-List

Written By: Amanda Patton
Date: May 16, 2022

The software selection process can be daunting when you realize just how many solutions there are on the market. When evaluating software for a digital transformation, it's important to analyze the strategy required more so than the ins and outs of the products themselves. That will come later once we know the strategic direction the client chooses, which is dictated, in part, by how the shortlist contenders are structured.  The software selection should also be made with an eye on the future, as the software will ideally outlast the digital transformation it was chosen to support.

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Let's take a hypothetical case study of a digital transformation.

Company Profile

Take, for instance, Great & Co., a consumer products/apparel company. They rake in roughly $1B in annual revenue, they have multiple locations across the world and their primary growth strategy has been to acquire smaller companies. As a result, they have a lot of movement and a ton of "edge systems" that don't function synergistically.

As a result, their operations are full of silos. The independent, best-of-breed systems have been bubble gum and bandaged together, and are unintentionally creating more manual work, confusion, lost orders, inaccurate product data, financials, etc. To make matters worse, this landscape was built upon MS Great Plains an ERP solution that is approaching sunset.

Understanding Great & Co's best fit software comes with understanding their overall technology stack, otherwise known as their system architecture. No matter which road they take, it will always lead back to technical disruption due to how their system infrastructure is set up. The fact of the matter is, if you're going to update an MES, CRM, HCM, or any other system when operations are at this capacity, one must consider a full-scope ERP system to do the job. Sure, it may be more painful and expensive to rip and replace the current technological landscape of the company in an effort to do it "right" now, but it will likely be better in the long run.

Where does the software selection process begin?

Great & Co. is an example of an organization that has ample work to do in order to prepare for a digital transformation. They would need to focus on things like reworking processes, trimming the fat, and reducing internal product development to be able to streamline, have a repeatable process across all operations, etc. 

Once they are able to clean up and prepare for a transformation, they need to revisit their overall corporate strategy to dial in on a successful digital strategy. This will help to better understand how software can play a role in achieving their goals.

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Alignment in Corporate and Digital Strategy

For Great & Co., their objectives were to gain stability in their systems and enable further scalability. These objectives have been ironed out amongst executives, enabling everyone to be on the same page. It's only with this clear and distinct goal that we can truly dial in on the best fit software. Without it, the ample options of software solutions on the market would pose a different allure, pulling the organization away from the target operating model they need in order to reach their future state vision.

Great & Co's variable and unique operational factors brought us to the following ERP solutions on their shortlist:

Before jumping into product demonstrations, we will first analyze each software to see which one will be better in the long run.

A software's ability to provide a return on investment (ROI) is essential in any software decision and should be considered when evaluating software solutions. Its ability to provide an ROI lies in the 3 pillars of digital strategy: people, processes, and technology.

  1. People need to adopt the software with ease.
  2. Processes need to be streamlined by the people through the technology.
  3. Technology needs to be a good fit for IT capabilities and system infrastructure.

All three of these pillars need to be analyzed to understand the current state, visualized to understand the future state, and blueprinted to understand how to build the bridge between the two. This is true through the software selection process, and really through any other phase throughout the digital transformation journey. Other factors such as company size, industry, business model, processes, etc. also come into play to help make a final decision.

The software is just one piece of the puzzle. A company also needs to consider organizational readiness, data, change management, and other factors to ensure success.  If your organization is considering adopting and implementing new enterprise technologies, I welcome you to reach out. I am always happy to be an informal sounding board as you find ways to optimize your operations.

Amanda Patton

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