Would a person trust a doctor who uses a machete for surgeries, rather than a scalpel? How about if that doctor does not use laser technology that has improved surgery success rates from 80 percent to 95 percent?
In either case, a person would likely not use the doctor who follows these practices. Also, this doctor would not likely be inbusiness long, due to lack of patients. Selecting the right software for a construction company is like selecting the right tool for a job. But how can a company be sure they have picked the best tool for the business need?
Before diving into how to select systems, consider the value of the systems. Every technology system does one or more of the following tasks: capture data, process data and/or present information. The right system and business processes create a competitive advantage for any one company. Systems that move data, reduce errors and provide valuable feedback to the firm drive business change.
However, the best systems will fail if proper business processes and buy-in of the system do not exist up front. Making sure the company is ready to improve processes in cohesion with a new system ensures that the information derived from the system will drive decisions. So, how do you select the right system?
The first step is to identify your company’s needs. The best way to identify needs is to have a well-rounded perspective of the company’s current climate. The best way to gain this perspective is to form a cross-functional council. The council exists to provide feedback on system priorities. Two things are achieved by gaining a companywide perspective. First, system buy-in is higher because each business unit has a say in the IT systems. Second, the business is focusing on the most valuable systems because of the cross-organizational perspective.
After forming the IT council, the next step is to identify business needs. The needs set priority on which systems to implement first. Use the IT council to form a project implementation team. As a first step, have this team create a decision criteria matrix. The matrix should cover key items, such as cost, capabilities and technology infrastructure. Use other companies and trade shows to identify potential systems. Send out a request for proposal (RFP) with the system requirements determined by the criteria matrix. Additionally, make sure to set a return-by date on the RFP.
Once submissions are received, take the initial proposals and list each system on the matrix. Determine which systems meet the most criteria. Take the top 3 to 5 systems and do basic demos to make sure the proposals align with the system’s capabilities.
After looking at the demos, narrow down the selection to no more than three vendors and request an in-depth demo. Have the vendors perform the process in the way the company will use the system with real-time data. Let the project team and the IT council take part in these demos. At the end of the demo process, one system will likely separate itself as the best system. The final step of the process, besides purchasing the system, is to evaluate the current business process. This evaluation determines what changes are needed.
The above process will most often yield the best system that fit the company’s needs. As a company works through the system needs list, purchases new systems and implements them, information will begin to flow more efficiently through the business. This improved information flow will provide rapid feedback to the business and allow your company to look ahead. Putting the right systems in place drives positive change and creates a competitive advantage for your company.