Business Management Software Selection – 15 Ways to Improve Your Performance

August 30th, 2013 by

OK so it appears as though your current accounting/ERP system isn’t getting the job done.  Maybe that’s obvious to you, but what about everyone else?  Where is the system failing you?  Is there something better?  Is the problem your software or your business itself?  What should you do?  The answer is relatively straight forward.  You need to purchase Business Management Software.

Business Management SoftwareThe process of replacing your current accounting or ERP system is a daunting task to say the very least, particularly if you have not been through this process in several years, or at all in many cases.

All systems “do” accounting.  What you need is a more effective and efficient way to “manage” your company.  That’s why we have used the term “Business Management Software”.

Business management software helps you

  • perform specific tasks,
  • gives you the tools to perform these tasks efficiently,
  • monitor these tasks, and finally
  • improve these tasks.

If you are going to replace your current system, you need to find that one product with which you can form an effective and efficient partnership.

Business Management Software Selection

It isn’t possible to describe every step in a typical software selection project.  Instead we are going to outline the critical first steps you should take and also discuss how you can utilize business management software to help you monitor and control your business more effectively.

Start a quiet conversation.

You need to get people involved in the transition process and the best way to do so is opening a general discussion about your current system.  Nothing specific, just get people involved in the conversation and therefore in the process.

The stated objective here is developing a general picture of your current system, its strengths and certainly its weaknesses.  The underlying objective is even more important.  People will be more willing to participate in the selection project if they feel as though their opinion matters.

People are more important than technology.

You can purchase the best ERP system on the market and yet the software selection project will still fail.  That’s because people, all people in the firm must be included in the process.  If you thrust a new system on people without their advice and consent, they will resist.  If you purchase software that actually makes peoples’ lives more difficult, you will achieve nothing.

Secure buy-in.

Everyone in your firm must support this project; not just executives and line of business managers.  Everyone is a “stakeholder”.

Answer the question: Can we do better?

As people are participating in these initial conversations, it’s going to be tempting to concentrate on what’s wrong with the current system.  That’s fine.  You need to expose weaknesses, but try to take a somewhat positive approach as well and search for “opportunities for improvement”.

Answer the question: Are we ready to change?

There is no doubt that some people in an organization want to keep things the way they are.  If this project is going to be successful, you have to get a critical mass of people involved.  Rather than ignoring this potential impediment to success, search for people who might be reluctant to support the project.  Answer their personal questions and encourage them to participate.

Answer the question: Do you know what you are doing?

Ignorance is possibly one of the most critical contributors to failure.  How can you build a better tomorrow if you don’t know what’s possible?  Project leaders may not appreciate the complexity of the project or they literally don’t know what they are doing.  Be honest with yourself.  If you don’t know how to manage this project, learn how to do so or bring in a software selection expert.

Educate yourself.

This is a learning opportunity.  Use tools such as Google Blog Search to find articles regarding the business management software selection process or business management in general.  The key here is knowledge acquisition that will help you understand how to select business management software.

Find a mentor.

Talk to vendors or resellers.  Make it clear that you are not in a buying mode yet.  Take this opportunity to become familiar with the capabilities of today’s software.  You can even ask vendors and resellers to help you understand how to improve your business processes.  If resellers or vendors are willing to help you at this very early project phase, they may make excellent business partners (presuming of course that their product meets your requirements).

Create a step-by-step selection plan.

You need to cover all of the bases if you expect this project to be a success.  Before you actually start take whatever time is required to create a step-by-step plan that everyone supports.

Organize yourself for success.

If a company is not organized for success (culture, leadership style, business processes and finally business management software) a new system will accomplish little if anything.

Forget about where you are today. Define where you need to be tomorrow.

You are not going to achieve success if you focus on today’s issues rather than tomorrow’s opportunities.  While there is no doubt that correcting current business management software issues (software and processes) is one of the drivers of change, you cannot just focus on what needs to be fixed.

Accounting systems support a firm’s efforts to achieve excellence, but a significant part of being an excellent firm is the constant search for opportunities to improve.  This isn’t change for the sake of change, but a constant evolutionary process.  That’s why you need to evaluate where you want to be, not just where you are today.

Start at the bottom.

Since one of the key issues you need to address is operational efficiency and effectiveness, go to the experts.  Ask operational staff what they need to do to carry out their tasks more effectively.

Create a system that serves your customers.

Your business management software must help people complete tasks efficiently and serve customers effectively.  If you cannot improve your customer service (which then leads of course to customer satisfaction), then go back to the drawing board.

Customers are the life blood of your company.  Ask them what you can do to meet their needs.

Don’t try to be the best of the best.

Once you have created an initial picture of the functionality and management capabilities of your new system, don’t go off the deep end.  You need a product that helps you complete business tasks, but you don’t need features just because someone else says so.  Create a tool that meets your unique requirements.

Create a system that allows you to monitor the efficiency of tasks quickly and reliably.

People must complete their tasks efficiently.  Completing a task and completing a task efficiently are two different things.  You need to monitor these tasks because that’s the only way you can improve task performance.  Forget about conducting a study after the fact.  As you are building your business management software requirements, determine exactly what you need to monitor the efficiency of key tasks.

You cannot wait for a month-end close to effectively monitor and control task efficiency.  This information has to be available on a real-time basis.  That’s called proactive business management.

Better reporting leads to better decisions.

Your software selection project must contain two key selection elements.  There has to be a functionality match and the system has to be able to provide a platform by which wise business decisions can be made.

Accounting software functionality gets the job done, but business management software reporting tools give you the information you need to monitor the health of your organization.  Actually that’s why I use the term “Business Management System”.  Your accounting system will process business transactions, but your business management software will be used to support the critical decision making process.

As we discussed above, you will need information to help you monitor and control business tasks.  You will also need information that helps you monitor the health of other business related activities, including the achievement of corporate objectives and strategies.

Utilize Key Performance Indicators to monitor your business.

If you are going to monitor the health of your organization, the most effective way to do so is Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).  Any KPI is a single value that reflects the relative health of some aspect of your organization.  KPIs are best displayed as a line chart.

Forget about row and column reports, bar charts and pie charts.  All of these values are but a snapshot of a business condition at a specific point in time and you cannot make a decision based on a single value.

You need to know where you have been (history), where you are (today’s position) and where you are going.  KPIs are the only way you can determine where you need to spend your time.

Actually you need to add one additional element.  KPIs should be displayed as a line chart and will therefore paint a picture of performance.  That’s fine, but you also need to know where you should be, not just where you are.  It’s similar to the concept of budgeting.  Define where you need to be and then compare that against where you are (two lines on the same chart).  Then you can quickly determine where you need to concentrate your efforts.

Summary

If you are searching for a new accounting/ERP system, don’t concentrate only on functionality.  Yes, you do need to complete specific tasks and activities, but you also need to monitor the efficiency of these tasks.  You also need to monitor the health of your firm over multiple indices.  If you cannot take your firm’s pulse, how can you possibly know where you need to make improvements?

Business management is the underlying concept you need to adopt.

  • Create a foundation for business success.
  • Design efficient tasks.
  • Control those tasks.
  • Monitor those tasks on a real-time basis.
  • Improve those tasks and your business continuously.

Additional Reading

The Cloud Keeps Business Solution Selection a Business Decision – Not an IT Decision (http://www.erpsoftwareblog.com/2013/07/the-cloud-keeps-business-solution-selection-a-business-decision-not-an-it-decision/)

PERFECT Fit ERP Selection Methodology (http://panorama-consulting.com/services/erp-software-selection/perfect-fit-erp-selection-methodology/)
Why you need Medium Size Business ERP Accounting Software? (http://www.infybiz.com/medium-size-business-erp-accounting-software.html)

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