Software Shopping: A Recipe for Success – Part 2: Preparing the Shopping List

In the last post, we talked about the similarities between software shopping and food shopping and the importance of preparing a shopping list. But, how do you begin?

Start with menu planning. In the software world, this is defining the scope of the new system. For example, if you are looking for ERP (enterprise resource planning) software, are you just looking for the basic financial modules (GL, AP, AR), or do you need more sophisticated capabilities including advanced financial reporting and consolidations, budgeting and forecasting, and multi-currency? Perhaps your ERP system needs include basic distribution modules (inventory, purchasing, sales order processing) or you may need additional distribution capabilities including warehouse management and logistics. If you are looking for CRM (customer/constituent relationship management) software, are you looking for just sales opportunity and pipeline management, or you do also need service/case management, marketing, and/or workflow? If you are a non-profit looking for a new fundraising system, do you need just a good donor database, gift tracking and a donate-now button, or do you need sophisticated direct marketing, campaigns and pledges, dues and membership, and a robust, engaging on-line donor/member web platform?

Once you’ve defined the scope of what you need, each module becomes an item on your menu and corresponds to a recipe in your cookbook.

Now think about a recipe. The top of every recipe lists the ingredients. The ingredients are your list of the detailed requirements for your new system. For each module, prepare a list of the key requirements that are most important to you. Focus on identifying the requirements that make your organization unique and then rank the ingredients and identify those that your business cannot function without. We refer to these as the “knock-out” requirements. If a vendor cannot provide a solution for these knock-out requirements, then their software is not a fit and their solution is not viable for you

Now think again about a recipe. Below the ingredients are the steps to prepare the meal. These are the procedures, or in our analogy, the business processes.


Up Next: analyzing business processes and preparing scenarios…


© Charles J. Riess 2017