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More Distribution Software Selection Tips
One of the most important, and frequently neglected, aspects of acquiring business software is one that takes place before the purchase takes place - in fact even before the company contacts any vendors. This is determining what software functionality is most important to the specific business for which the company is selecting the software. It is easy to get caught up in a sales pitch when talking to sales people. After all, it is their job to convince prospective buyers to close the deal and some of them are very good at pitching a product. Approaching the selection process with a pre-determined and thorough concept of what the company needs and how it should function within a specific business can prevent numerous headaches down the road.

There are many different types of enterprise software available, all with a variety of distinctive features. If the features of the package that the company finally purchases are not compatible with the type of business for which the company purchases them, the acquisition will very likely be a waste of time and could even waste lots of money. If a business is going to invest in enterprise software, it must be software that will ultimately improve the functioning of the business by making it quicker, easier, and/or more profitable. The software that is right for one company may not be right for another. For example, software designed for machine shops may well not be the best selection for electronics manufacturing and vice versa.

The first step that a company should take is to determine xactly what functions are critical to the type of business that the software will serve. This should take into consideration all of the different employees and departments that will ultimately use it.

Some of the requirements that companies need to take into consideration are the softwares capabilities for functions like e-commerce, multi-plant demand planning, co-product processing, outsourcing specific operations, forecasting and demand planning, shipment consolidation, product substitutions, back order processing, lot or serial number tracking, and a whole host of others. Companies can determine the need for specific software functions by examining the most high volume functions of an organization and looking at how well and how quickly each piece of software handles those tasks. One technique that has worked well for some companies is to form an inter-departmental team that will make the final software package selection, thereby ensuring that everyones needs are met or addressed. If that type of selection process is not a workable option, other companies have found it advantageous to hire a software selection consultant whose specialty is assessing the various packages available and the way that each package would fit within a particular type of business. A consultant can also be helpful in preparing an initial assessment of implementation costs.

A second common mistake that companies make when purchasing enterprise software for the first time, is failing to give solid consideration to the systems implementation and the associated costs. If the extent of system testing and backup, for example, are neglected, or the impact that implementation time will have on the business is not anticipated, costly delays can result. It is critical to have the most knowledgeable employees - those who are already most involved with the businesss current operations - involved in implementing a software system, once it has been purchased.

Perhaps the most important phase of implementing a software system is setup and testing. Adequate time and resources must be dedicated to making sure that each process is well tested and problems found prior to full implementation. All of the what-ifs need to be taken into consideration and completely thought through for each key process and procedures should be outlined and adopted for handling all of them. It is also important that the processes, once identified, make their way into written form. The processes arent of much use if there is later disagreement over what was adopted, or if those processes cannot be easily communicated to the organizations employee base.

The success of a software implementation may ultimately ride on the efficiency of the original planning and implementation process. There are numerous packages on the market and most of them do what they are designed to do. The key is finding which ones have the most functions that fit a particular business and taking care in the implementation process.



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