The Evolving Excellence blog has a strongly-worded article against implementing SAP at a particular company with $5M in annual revenue. The argument basically says that a simpler, less expensive, system would work just as well for a business of that relatively small size. While the truth of this perspective is debatable, the post got me thinking about four questions software buyers should ask when evaluating a mission-critical enterprise system:
- How good is the “fit”? Does the intended solution address the problem. It’s amazing how often companies buy technology that will not actually solve their pain. Don’t ask me how this happens, but it does.
- Does the scale make sense? Don’t use a nuclear bomb when a fly swatter will work. Logic and reason tell us that small companies need smaller solutions, while bigger enterprises need larger, more robust systems.
- What’s the fully loaded cost? When buying software, the license fee just gets you in the door. There will be training expenses, downtime, implementation costs, and so on. Count on those additional expenses being part of your post-purchase life.
- Do you like the vendors and can you trust them? Implementing enterprise software is like a marriage with your consulting partner and software vendor. Be sure you are ready to tie the knot with those folks.
Buying any mission-critical system is complex, time-consuming, and expensive. When deciding what to buy, don’t rely on simple feature lists supplied by a software vendor as the primary decision criteria. Recognize you are going down a long path, and plan accordingly.
As I have written here and here and here, the selection process represents the first step on the road to project success or failure. Wise software buyers should tread very carefully on that road.
[Thanks to Dennis Howlett for bringing the Evolving Excellence post to my attention.]