Based on a recent research study conducted by SelectHub, we have extracted some discussion points that exhibit characteristic customer behavior during the research phase of a software selection process. While it’s difficult to speak of “characteristic customer behavior” given the unpredictability built into customers/human beings, we have nonetheless grouped together customers’ similar areas of concern and presented the customer response with our corresponding best practice recommendations.
Reasons for Software Upgrade and/or New Adoption
The most frequent survey response was that the software had outgrown its usefulness or had become outdated, functionality was greatly reduced, and there was a lack of integration between the various applications which required a lot of manual work.
Recommendation: A software change triggers a vast administrative change within the company. It’s important to carefully analyze the business case for the change, and whether it supports the level of disruption, implementation time, loss of productivity and cost that will be required to support this change. Even if the change may prove to be entirely justified, a well thought out analysis is worth the time and effort. The final analysis may include a mix of old and new software products. You may keep some of what you have and supplement your system with innovative technology that helps you stay competitive. The assessment should take into account business growth over the next 5 to 10 years. You might ask yourself: can you afford the investment over the next 5 to 10 years?
At times, we undermine our own ability to assess our best business choices because we enter this process with too many preconceived ideas and opinions about the products we’re researching. For example, some customers refuse to look at or consider tier one vendors like Oracle, SAP and Microsoft, while others look only at tier one vendors. Perhaps they’re relying on some anecdotal evidence presented by colleagues or competitors, but dispelling of all that hearsay is beneficial for this process.
Recommendation: Base your consideration of vendor products strictly on what will best serve your business, along with both your short- and long-term strategy, as opposed to a preconceived notion of a vendor that’s probably not based on sound reasoning.
Using a Consultant
According to our study, approximately 1 in 6 businesses hire a consultant to help them navigate the selection process.
Recommendation: Working with consultants can be a great asset to a company’s selection process. But given their level of expertise and independence from the office routine, there’s a risk of relying too heavily on their expertise. This can give their recommendations more weight than the input of team members who will ultimately be using the system. The internal dynamics of an individual work environment is unique to each business, and is best assessed by employees on the inside. A consultant’s input is most valuable when balanced with the input of internal stakeholders.
The average time spent on the selection process is 6 months or less.
Recommendation: This is a major business investment, and it’s best handled with the appropriate amount of time and thoroughness available for a project of this scope.
Be cautious of the tendency to “rip and replace.”
Recommendation: Consider taking a phased approach. It might be more prudent to replace what is most urgent and make plans for future replacement needs. If you’re replacing an SMB solution, look for a product that addresses midsize company needs. It makes more sense to seek vendors who offer multiple core products like financials, HR, CRM, etc. The final analysis may include a mix of old and new software products. You may keep some of what you have and supplement your system with innovative technology that helps you stay competitive. The assessment should take into account business growth over the next 5 to 10 years, and whether your business can sustain this investment.