Why Technology Solutions are Often Underutilized
Previously, I discussed technology as part of your business growth strategy and revealed that, often times, the most significant value can be derived from the portion of your technology solution that you’re not using.
The major reason for this underutilization is the knowledge gap between the people who sell software and the people who buy software.
Those in the position of making a buying decision for an ERP, or other large technology solution, investment often find themselves making operational decisions they may not fully understand. By choosing software based on the demo scenario, and the features and functionality sheets presented by sales, decision makers can neglect to ask the more pertinent operational questions.
Being sold a solution by a vendor who knows the easiest way to get you to buy is to sell you the shiny object, nearly guarantees they will tell you their solution can do practically anything you ask of it. And while that may be true, getting the software to perform all those functions may be complex and cost prohibitive. When the solution only performs 70% of what a business anticipated, time and money is then burnt trying to get the other 30%, and the rest of the solution goes unutilized.
Unfortunately, people often make buying decisions on subjective criteria, which happen when a buying cycle is started before an impact assessment is completed. In order to make the best purchase decision, you should first define your must have, want to have, and nice to have features and functions, and then define how you envision those requirements manifesting themselves in technology. Instead of simply expressing them as a software function, think strategically about the business requirement that drives that need and investigate HOW a software solution meets this requirement, instead of just accepting that it can. Armed with a roadmap for where you’d like to see your company go, you’re better able to navigate to a proper decision. Without looking at the potential outcomes of the project in advance, you may make a poor decision and wind up with a system that will never reach its full potential.
The Value of Performing Functional Requirements
Performing an impact assessment and defining functional requirements is often viewed as too time consuming or difficult. However, what most decision makers fail to realize is that by doing the work up front, you can save yourself time and money overall.
Look at your current business challenges and determine the outcome of doing versus not doing something. You need to define more than the features you need by clearly defining the business requirements that drive out the functionality. For example, don’t say you need a module for dealing with inventory, but instead define the business requirement of needing inventory optimization, which includes reducing overhead, dead stock, and rush orders, and match a technology feature to that requirement.
Simplifying or generalizing your requirements will harm your decision. Define everything, prioritize your needs and determine the key requirements that can make or break your business. The reality is, every ERP solution from the Top 10 providers can meet most of the basic requirements, so you need to find out which one can best meet your key requirements, the ones that will have the greatest impact on your business. Don’t spend time learning about how a solution can cut a check – that’s a given. Spend time learning how a solution is going to reduce your overstock inventory levels, because that is going to give you a strategic advantage.
By spending the time planning and assessing what your business really needs to succeed, you can avoid making costly mistakes. The time you spend in advance will be recouped perpetually overtime if you enable yourself to make a smart, strategic business investment. We don’t engage in any solution implementations without first guiding our clients through the business impact and functional requirements process. We know that the best way to succeed is to define upfront what success means to your individual organization.
Take the time to make the right decision, and then fully utilize everything your technology has to offer. Then and only then will you see the technology solution working as a distinct growth enabler.
– Software Delivered as Promised. No Surprises.