5 common mistakes in selecting business systems

'How can businesses avoid making mistakes in the buying phase?'

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With 2015 set to be the year when spending in the enterprise software market sky-rockets, businesses must ensure they invest wisely in a system that provides longevity, flexibility, scalability, reliability and complete real-time visibility across their operations to help inform business decisions.

According to Gartner’s Worldwide IT Spending Forecast, spending in enterprise software is set to rise 5.5% to $335 billion in 2015. So, how can businesses avoid making mistakes in the buying phase? There are five common pitfalls.

1. Failure to implement a single unified solution

The worst mistake is to not embrace a single unified, cloud-based business management solution. With a unified solution, visibility into accurate and real-time data is assured. Businesses have access to one single version of their data truth across the board. Decision makers need to see data in real-time so they can take action and anticipate or react to changes impacting their businesses.  

A single unified view of all corporate data isn’t possible with a mix of disparate systems, and it can have a number of negative effects on a business, including an increase in hours and decrease in productivity as staff have to manually re-enter data between systems, increases in costs and a lack of understanding between and visibility into departments.

>See also: Beware the perils of hidden data

One industry where forward-thinking companies really understand the importance of a single unified solution is in the retail industry. Retailers using cloud solutions that tightly integrate ecommerce, CRM, order management, and inventory and warehouse management are reaping the rewards.

Retailers such as Fat Face, Laura Ashley and Orlebar Brown are already using cloud solutions to create a seamless and consistent customer experience across multiple channels and have seen an increase in sales as a result.

2. Not buying future-proofed solutions

Another mistake buyers may make in the year ahead is focusing on software to solve today’s business problems. This is shortsighted and has left many companies having to confront costly and time-consuming upgrades, painful re-implementations or, worse yet, having to get by on software that actually holds the business back from expansion.

Software buyers today need to account for the future and to choose a software suite that’s constantly expanding on existing functionality and bringing in new capabilities in order to prime their businesses for growth.

The pace of change isn’t letting up. Already, we’re seeing product companies that are adding services to their portfolios and vice versa. Companies need software that is future-proofed. That means software that is agile enough to adjust to the constant change businesses confront, whether that’s entering new markets, adapting to new competitors, shifting business models or rapid growth to a public offering or all of the above at the same time.

Software solutions that have demonstrated a proven ability to grow and evolve with businesses undergoing rapid growth or change is the way to go in order to future proof businesses.

As a new Ovum study pointed out, while four out of five large companies understand the importance of business agility to their commercial success, they're still being held back by the one thing that should be enabling their agility: IT.

Buying future-proofed solutions becomes the key for enabling continuous business process improvement that then results in more company growth.

3. Sticking to just what you know

Typically, companies will skip ‘time consuming’ market research in favour of sticking to or buying software they may have heard of. It may not be a great solution that resolves all the business’ challenges but it’s familiar and they know others in the industry are using it.

As a result, they are running their businesses on a mix of disparate applications and manual processes which are poorly integrated with each other and where data is therefore error-prone and infrequently updated.

Today’s software is more capable than ever, and the best purchases can present real-time and relevant information in an easily consumable, attractive and useful form.

But businesses mustn’t be hasty – there is a lot of research and a number of considerations businesses must make when investing in new technology. While they may already have useful industry technology knowledge under their belt, business leaders must ensure they do their research to make an informed choice, in the same way they would with any long-term investment.  

4. Not realising that your legacy system is outdated

An outdated legacy system is likely to do businesses more harm than good, and there’s no room for denial – the continuous influx of data isn’t stopping. One of the worst mistakes businesses can make in 2015 is to stick their heads in the sand and think that their legacy business management systems that were designed at the beginning of their company history, decades before, will survive the never-ending deluge of data. Legacy infrastructure will collapse under the sheer weight of data. 

The reality is that businesses that remain reluctant to adopt a modernised IT infrastructure will be left behind as competitors steal their customers, out-predict others in the market, create new sources of revenue and use cloud technology that can be scaled and upgraded at the touch of a button in line with business growth.

For those organisations that are yet to make a decision on their system overhaul this year, the good news is that the technology to prepare your business for growth is out there, and can be implemented now. 

5. Failure to customise intelligently

Businesses are all too keen to customise software to suit their individual business needs. It’s a much more attractive proposition that buying ‘off-the-shelf’ products that cater to those that really believe one size fits all.  

But unfortunately, many businesses today with older on-premise systems get carried away with the ability to customise, believing that this compensates for failing to replace their age-old systems.

As a result, their systems are so heavily customised that they can’t get rid of it or even upgrade out of fear that they will never be able to replace exactly what they had.

Customisation is vital and many cloud-based software vendors offer a completely tailored solution to individual businesses, but they must ensure they are only customising the things that need to be customised.

For example, different businesses and industries have different metrics, and correctly identifying and fine tuning such requirements could be the difference between a useful dashboard and insights that can lead to business growth, or further wasted person hours, ill-informed business decisions and slow-moving business processes.

The right cloud-based application can automatically carry customisations forward with each upgrade and prevent the sort of version lock-in that old on-premise systems created by making the upgrade process a nightmare.

>See also: How big data can help businesses dodge mistakes

In an age where new technologies, trends and buzzwords are being created and thrown around every day, it’s no surprise that IT spending is still on the rise as businesses continue in the battle to boost market share, streamline processes, keep customers happy and keep costs down.

Often, the easy thing to do is to simply stick to what you know or purchase a variety of different solutions in the hope that combined, they will solve all the business’ challenges.

But businesses need to ensure they have the right tools, ask the right questions and do the right amount of research when it does come to making large and long-term investments.

Ultimately, the best business solutions give you the tools to investigate today’s big issues and are flexible enough to help solve your biggest challenges in the future.

 

Sourced from Mark Woodhams, MD EMEA, NetSuite

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