10 Key Questions Before You Sign an Enterprise Software Deal
Today’s blog features our very own Sara Moss, Vice President of Staffing Best Practices for erecruit™. Sara gives her best advice on the final stages of the enterprise software selection process, providing her top 10 list of key questions to make sure you ask yourselves before signing an enterprise software deal.
1. Is the solution flexible enough to evolve with your business?
Is the solution designed to be adaptable to new business models, processes and market growth? As many companies have discovered over the past decade, there is a major difference between configurability and customization. Does a change in how you use the solution or to your key business processes require customization – meaning resource-heavy technology work that the vendor (or someone) will need to perform? Will there be major costs involved with changes in how you use the solution? Or, can the technology be configured to accommodate expansion, changes to processes, new sales or operational (e.g. recruiting and staffing) models, and other evolution of your business?
2. Does it help you manage and grow your business with better results?
Take a moment for a final assessment about the degree to which the solution will help you manage your business more effectively. Some technology solutions will provide you with the ability to streamline and automate tasks. Others go far beyond that, to enabling you to transform the way you do business and improving your efficiency and productivity. Do you have the ability to gain immediate insights into your business and productivity? Is the software configurable, so that you can set up workflows you want to meet your business needs, combined with notifications, alerts, goal tracking, dashboards and reporting to help you and your team get the job done more efficiently? Can you manage activity and results based upon your organization structure, with roll-up reporting by department, line of business, etc.? Does the solution enable you to oversee performance and manage your business, with the visibility into your operations and data – when you need it?
3. Will the company be a true partner?
Any company can be on its best behavior during the sales process. When you make the decision to purchase an enterprise solution, you need a provider that stays focused on you and takes a true, lasting partnership approach with its customers. What are you learning during the sales process? Are there major delays when you ask for information? What is the attitude of the team when you want more detail or raise a concern? Are they collaborative when challenges or questions arise? How accessible are leaders during the process? Do the company’s values and culture match yours?
4. Does the company really know your business?
During the sales process, you may meet some of the provider’s team members that have knowledge of your industry. How pervasive is that experience throughout the company and leadership, how deep is the background, and what is the experience of the team involved after the deal is signed? Does the company demonstrate their knowledge of your business and your industry on a deep level, beyond a person or two during the sales process? Does the team understand and have experience with your key staffing verticals? Within the world of enterprise staffing software, the provider’s team should have a strong understanding of your business challenges as an enterprise-level customer, what it takes to compete effectively, and what is important to your customers. The more a provider understands you and your environment, the better their solution and services will be for your business.
5. Is complexity right up their alley?
Are the provider’s software and support model designed for companies of your size and complexity (i.e. designed and built for an enterprise-level staffing company environment with multiple verticals and services)? Does the provider have experience with complex environments, at your level or even more complex? What is their average customer size? When they learn about the complexity of your needs, can the provider respond immediately with examples from experience and solutions? Is complexity “business as usual” for the provider, planned for in their solution design and practices? Do your questions pertaining to the complexity of your environment, needs or desires seem to throw off talks? Are your questions greeted with hesitation, information delays or incomplete responses?
6. Will you be stuck tomorrow with yesterday’s technology?
Does the provider have a culture of customer-focused innovation, so that the solutions it provides are and will be the best, most relevant and technologically advanced solutions available in the future? Does the provider have an innovation mindset and what do they do in practice? Strategic software selection begins with picking a technology partner who is constantly looking at the market and advancements in technology so that it can bring the latest and greatest solutions to positively impact your business. The strategic partner also understands your environment and what makes you unique, bringing you best practices and ways to use the solution that will help you differentiate and continue to improve your business over time.
7. Are you in control or held captive by the provider?
Does the system allow you to leverage your internal resources and control the application in-house or will you need to depend solely on the technology provider, with or without added costs? Is the solution configurable by your team without IT specialist experience? Does the provider give you deployment options that fit your business strategy and your internal resource availability? Does the provider have an experienced professional services team, options (e.g. hosting) and approaches for an enterprise-level customer? Will you have the flexibility to provide resources for the implementation process if you choose to do so?
8. Can you access your own data, real-time, anytime?
Does the provider give you direct access to your data at all times, 24x7x365? Is the data real-time and actionable? Does the company provide you with reporting capabilities and reports, in addition to direct data access? Are you able to create custom reports and add unlimited custom fields for any record type? Will you be able to view the real-time performance data against goals you’ve set in order to manage your business – and for producers to manage their own desks? Will anything pertaining to your data access or reporting require additional costs and/or add-on service requirements? Are there restrictions on the frequency of data access without additional costs? Will you be able to access your data on your own and in your timeframe, without additional costs, if you choose to replace the provider with an alternative solution in the future?
9. Will the company exist 2, 5 or even 10 years from now?
It is also important to consider the stability and future of the technology provider. Is the company growing or declining? Are they losing or gaining market share? Are they making important investments in their team, business model and infrastructure? How will the company keep pace with growth? In other words, does the company have depth of experience in its leadership ranks as well as throughout the company to support growth?
10. Is the company a leader or a follower?
While this question relates to others on this list, it is distinct in that it deals with both the position that the provider takes in the market and the value they add to your business. Are they a market leader, introducing best-in-class solutions in their product categories? Are their products designed specifically for enterprise-level companies and are they continuing to introduce solutions and applications of their technology ahead of others in the market? Does the company demonstrate ongoing thought leadership, so that they will bring innovative best practices, technologies, product extensions, ideas and value added information to help you improve your business?
While this list includes 10 of the key considerations, you may have more. Don’t get stuck making a decision to hit a deadline when you still have concerns that are not addressed to your satisfaction. One other question I always like to ask is, “Are there any red flags from the sales and due diligence process?” With an enterprise-level technology purchase, you’ll be tied to the provider for years to come. Pairing up with the wrong technology partner can be a nightmare for your company – dragging your business down while your competition blossoms with their selection. Take the time to make sure you’ve got the right partner, so you aren’t stuck tomorrow with yesterday’s technology and a provider that doesn’t fit your needs.
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Vice President, Staffing Best Practices at erecruit
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