If you’re currently involved with your company’s software selection and implementation project, then I’m sure you can appreciate how difficult this process is. From figuring out what you want your new system to accomplish, to “go-live”—and everything in between—enterprise software selection is no easy feat. In fact, it can be downright grueling.
To start your software selection project off on the right foot, you must first define all of your current business processes—and then document them. This task alone can take months. However, with the right methodology and tools, the time spent doing this can be cut down significantly. If you are using your own methods for gathering requirements, your list of business processes must be structured in such a way that allows vendors to easily apply them to their products and determine whether they can support certain functionalities.
Again, no easy feat!
Many organizations often start a software selection by first choosing a vendor and then working in tandem with the vendor throughout the process of identifying and modeling their business processes on software capabilities. This is all fine and dandy—but who knows your business better than the people who perform these processes day in and day out? You, your department managers, and IT staff. Why put the onus on the vendor to perform this task and then risk not being certain that everything your new system may need has been identified? Not to mention the cost this type of vendor service could carry!
So what’s a software selection project manager to do?
Let’s take a look at how you can build a comprehensive request for information (RFI) by first reviewing the basics principles of business process modeling (BPM) and how it correlates to the RFI. Read the rest of this entry »
The Cost of Learning—a Very Brief History
Training (or learning) has always been viewed as a cost center (representing a cost of doing business similar to other employee costs such as salary, commissions, and benefits). That’s why many organizations in the past have struggled with the challenge of justifying the cost of training in their budgets.
Today, organizations are making significant investments in technology—which includes solutions for training staff and further developing their career opportunities. Through e-learning, businesses can now reach many more people within their organization with a lot more content—for the same cost. It’s important to note, however, that while investments in e-learning do not reduce overall costs, they do allow these costs to be leveraged more efficiently across the organization. Read the rest of this entry »
“Come gather ’round people, wherever you roam, and admit that the waters around you have grown. And accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone. If your time to you is worth savin’ then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone. For the times they are a-changin’.” – Bob Dylan
The Global Recession
Re-ces-sion \ri-se-sh?n\ “a period of reduced economic activity”1
Recession: it’s an ugly word, but unfortunately a fact of life—especially these days. The current economic crisis not only affects individuals and businesses in North America, but those around the globe as well.
Nearly every day during the last six months when I’ve opened up the newspaper, there’s been some story about a company that has laid off its employees. The sad truth is that many of these layoffs are targeted toward individuals who have been working for the same company for many years and now are finding themselves looking for work in a job market for which they may not possess the skills required.
So what are these individuals and businesses doing to weather the storm? Well, I guess you could say it depends on the individual and what business he or she is in. Some industries have been harder hit than others (e.g., construction and manufacturing), but one thing is certain—the recession’s effect is being felt by everyone everywhere.
So, you’re the guy/gal who’s been put to the task of choosing your companies next enterprise software solution? Well, if you’re reading this, you’re most probably well on your way to choosing that software by now. You’ve made your proposal to your stakeholders; you’ve gathered your requirements and prioritized them; you’ve gotten a handful of software vendors to complete your RFI. So now what? Well, there’s still one very important step that needs to be taken: seeing the shortlisted products in action!
EIM/ECM 101: Cutting through the Confusion
If you’re like many people who’ve been put in charge of looking for your company’s next compensation solution, you may be somewhat bewildered about the different applications available. There has long been a confusion surrounding enterprise incentive management (EIM) and enterprise compensation management (ECM) solutions. The reason is that, technically, both types of solutions enable some of the same results—one of which is to provide a payment to an employee for services rendered. However, the reasons behind these payments can differ substantially (e.g., commissions versus bonuses versus spiffs, etc.). Read the rest of this entry »
Customer relationship management (CRM) is more than a technology. It’s a business strategy that aims at identifying customers and their needs and then creating sales and service strategies that are unique to them.
Here is a quick look at CRM—from buzzwords to trends, to some recommended solutions. Read the rest of this entry »
As a TEC research analyst, I get to see a lot of really interesting (and some not so interesting) stuff when it comes to enterprise software and the like. With technology changing at the speed of light, there’s always something new that I haven’t seen before, that grabs my attention and makes me say “Wow, that’s cool”!
Like this past week for instance. I had a product briefing with a company called Saba to get an overview of their learning management solution (LMS). I was fortunate enough to have Kenyatta Berry (Saba’s Director of Product Marketing) speak with my colleagues (TEC’s team of analysts) and I to show us Saba’s suite of enterprise software offerings. Along with that we received an overview of the company and its unique strategies for training its clients on how to use its software.
This leads me back to my opening remark about ”something I haven’t seen before”; that something is called Saba University.
Every so often, Technology Evaluation Centers (TEC) analysts—our in-house panel of experts—receive questions from readers on a variety of software-related subjects. While mostly in the realm of software selection, evaluation, the latest technology offerings, or simply questions about business issues, on occasion we receive a request that piques our interest—especially when it is slightly outside of our realm. In an interest to keep our readers informed, we selected one reader’s question and decided to highlight it here—along with our responses. The subject?—segregation of duties (SOD).
A little over 10 years ago, when I was working as an assistant manager in my former company’s payroll department—where many of the traditional human resources (HR) functions were handled by my staff—I often wondered, “well, if we’re doing all of this stuff, what are the people in HR doing?” I often joked with my fellow coworkers that it seemed (to me) that outside of handling employee paperwork and forwarding resumes to prospecting departments, all HR did was organize parties, baseball games, company BBQ’s, and hand out the occasional basket of “whatever” every time some poor sucker reached the five-, ten-, or 15-year mark of service. “Wow, what a great job,” I thought. “I’d like to do that and get paid for it!” Read the rest of this entry »
I never thought I’d ever make an analogy such as this, but as we head into spring (the season of change—and love in bloom), I figured, “what the heck”…
When you really think about it, selecting ERP software does have many similarities to planning a wedding—right down to the uncertainty of whether or not you’ve chosen the right solution or, in the case of your wedding, partner to spend a lifetime with. While I’m hoping that your marriage lasts longer than your software solution does, I’m also hoping that the solution you’ll choose will last your business well into the future.
Now let’s get to planning that ERP software selection shall we? Read the rest of this entry »
The white paper—a wonderful little piece of literature chock full of thought provoking insight and informative prose—got its start many years ago, long before there were computers in every office and home around the world. Back then, the white paper was a way for individuals to discuss their positions on a specific topic, but was predominantly used by the government. Today, white papers are a staple for many technology websites around the world—including ours.
Anyone who’s ever been involved in choosing enterprise software knows it’s not an easy job. It takes months of preparation that involves gathering information from various departments, mapping business processes, preparing a business case, interviewing stakeholders, and getting buy-in from executives and users on the project. And that’s only the beginning!
But whose job is it to do all of this anyway? It’s often assumed that someone in IT (a technical professional) will be responsible for it. Other assumed targets are the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the Chief Technical Officer (CTO), and sometimes even the Chief Financial Officer (CFO)—depending on the type of enterprise software that is required. But believe it or not, most often the person that is handed the title of software selection “Project Manager” or “Project Champion” is just an ordinary Joe—(or Jane to be politically correct)—a department manager or project coordinator who knows the organization’s business processes like the back of their hand. While he (or she) may not have any particular technical expertise, he may certainly be able to add value to the project by knowing the business. So, why not; who better to handle this type of job, than someone like that?
Which brings me to the point of my story… Read the rest of this entry »
Let’s face it; we’ve all had to deal with pushy salespeople.
How do they always get you to buy stuff—even when it’s something you didn’t need? It’s called the sales pitch. Every salesperson has one, and software vendors are no exception. In fact, they have several ways of pitching their products.
One such way is through a white paper—which often discusses particular problems that many companies may be facing. At the same time, it gives vendors the opportunity to enlighten you about the one possible solution that can “fix it.” However informative it may be, ultimately a white paper is a cleverly written sales pitch—a pitch containing certain buzzwords that gloss over the practical realities of their solution.
Here are ten of the most ambiguous buzzwords I’ve seen used in white papers—and they may make you think twice about whether or not a software vendor is truly focusing on your best interests.