Examine the staffing software buyer’s thinking process for a second. It’s lovely how often buyers say they have to be an ASP or “web-based” so that they ask any questions about what the software can do. The idea is to stop the systems before looking at any of them in depth. The idea is to save time because there are too many systems to assess them all. They eliminate several systems and then examine the survivors closely – to select the one that best suits their actual business needs. The error is subtle in this process. It must be because so many good business people seem to be in the same trap. By using non-functionality-based criteria, they are left to choose between systems that do not meet their actual business needs. Why look at systems that do not offer this capability when an integrated payroll and billing software solution is needed? But that’s precisely what’d happen.
Before embarking on a new software selection project, here are some things to consider:
Define your actual needs. To do this, you have to find out where your pain is. Your biggest system problem is probably not that you are running on the web. More likely, your process has some bottleneck. Perhaps it takes too long to pay/bill. Your contact management may be insufficient. Or maybe your current system does not offer sufficient search capability. Whatever it is, this should be the first filter to pass through any new system. A simple checklist, perhaps a dozen or so items, will likely eliminate 90% of the system flak. In other words, first, get to know you. Analyze internal needs. Include everyone who is affected by the new software in the organization. Assess software based on what your company can do.
See the platforms. Secondly, because the platform does not create the system, anything produced for Windows or the web will generally meet the basic platform requirements. Probably you want to stay away with old or less common systems such as Unix or Dos, and you probably want to restrict your choices to systems based on an actual database such as the SQL server, but it doesn’t matter much.
Contact potential suppliers and gather information on the rest of the systems. You will learn a lot about a potential partner by answering your inquiry. Could they be easily reached? Have they been responsive? Have they heard and asked questions? How a company acts in sales is a pretty good indicator of how it is going to be after-sales. Remember: they need you more than you need at this stage of the game. This flips after you become a customer. If their follow-up in the sales process was only fair, imagine how their support will look.
This makes sense. It is always better to reverse the response. If you have chosen software that meets your needs, you are more likely to be satisfied with your decision.