Whether you’ve done it once or many times, evaluating software can be daunting, time consuming and stressful.
With over sixteen years of experience our partner, Eureka Solutions, have learnt a few things – particularly for companies in the sports and leisure sectors - that you might find useful if you’re approaching or in the midst of this process, which they would like to share with you.
1. Think long-term
One of the most important pieces of advice we’d give would be to not to think “what do I need our system to do now?”, but to think “what will I need our system to do in five years’ time?”
For many organisations we are speaking to at the moment, dealing with the current situation and adapting to the post-COVID19 world, the flaws in their current systems – in terms of them being unfit for the long-term – have been magnified; they want to look at solutions to implement now, while things are quieter in many respects, or within the next few months, to be in a more robust position coming out of the crisis.
If you don’t think long-term you can end up with poorly planned system architecture that handles short-term needs and that holds your business back from scaling up (or down) efficiently. Siloed business software systems can restrict flexibility and productivity and can hamper growth.
2. Opt for one single-source of data
This leads us to our next recommendation – where possible and appropriate to your processes – go for a system that integrates your key business software applications around a single database. Whether you start with financials and build out (often recommended) or hit the ground running with any or all of financials, ERP, CRM, procurement, ecommerce and BI, if you go for a system capable of unifying functions in this way, scaling up or changing your business model – be it via new users, cost centres, sales channels or ways of working – can be accomplished a lot faster.
3. Take the strain off your resources
The right system for you will be one that relieves the strain on your resources – time and manpower – both now (while some of your team may be furloughed) and later, to free up resources to focus on more strategic tasks. With one source of data and / or effective system integration, processes can be automated with workflows tailored to your needs.
4. We can’t not mention the cloud
The linchpin for this is something you’ll have read about over and over – the cloud. And again, for many, the current way we are all working has put this way above everything else on the requirement list. Be careful that you don’t read ‘cloud’ so much that you stop seeing it, it’s vital to your systems strategy, access and adaptability. Yes, cloud software allows you to run your systems with nothing more than access to a browser and an internet connection, but the benefits are much more significant than that.
From increased security to reduced downtime, from real-time 360-degree visibility to upgrades being automatically delivered, not being on a cloud-based system immediately puts you on the back foot in so many ways. The switch to remote working is also effortless from a system access point of view.
5. Tackle your pain points and gain efficiencies
For many of our sport and leisure customer businesses, becoming more efficient on all fronts is the ultimate goal, with areas like procurement being a real pain point, for example. Look for a solution that will enable you to eliminate paper and manual processes, increase accuracy and reduce lengthy manual processes. You might find this case study for Derby County Football Club insightful if these issues ring bells with you.
6. Can the system make scenario planning, budgeting, forecasting and re-forecasting easier?
One key area for sporting organisations, particularly just now, is scenario planning and re-forecasting. Without the right system this is a time-consuming, onerous task. Look for a system that has this functionality fully integrated with your financials, ecommerce, CRM, procurement and more – in one central database – and can draw on real data, using in-built intelligence to show the implications of different scenarios business wide.
7. Consider the end user
Next tip …. think about what the experience will be for the end-users of your new system. Will the system give users sufficient ownership of their experience – will they have dashboards customised to their roles and their needs, will they be able to customise them and make minor changes easily without technical expertise? Giving your team the ability to make simple configuration changes to suit their priorities makes for a more efficient experience, increased user adoption and ultimately ROI.
8. Alleviate the pain of the system changeover
It’s not just the choosing of the system that can seem daunting, it’s the changeover process itself. Finance leaders can be wary of making changes due to the pitfalls traditionally associated with new software implementations, such as tedious and lengthy cycles, ballooning costs, implementation fatigue and disruption to business.
There are two main factors that influence the success or otherwise of this process – the configuration of the system, and your choice of partner.
Consider opting for a system that comes pre-configured with industry expertise, pre-defined roles, process flows and KPIs; that comes with turnkey set up and training, and reports, dashboards and business intelligence built in. This is available via NetSuite SuiteSuccess, for example - a clear pathway and rapid business value allow you to skip the traditional tedious, long, disruptive implementation.
As for the choice of partner, be fussy. Get references, ask not only about the implementation but the ongoing support and relationship. Ideally find someone that has experience in moving similar businesses from the system you’re on to the system you’re moving to. Speak to your peers. Pick a partner that is well-resourced – do they have sufficient resources and experience to support you with your change management and not leave you stranded out with the basic technical requirements?
Yes, the systems review can be daunting, but don’t let that put you off and hinder your growth and the productivity of your team. Change can be hard work so it’s vital to manage it effectively. Follow the guidance above and you won’t go far wrong.
You might find the resource ‘How finance leaders are taking the pain out of upgrading business management software’ helpful, and feel free to get in touch with our Senior Solution Consultant, Alan Miles, if you want any further information on any of the points. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01355 581960.