6 Surefire Ways to Botch Your Next Enterprise Solution Selection

enterprise software selectionDeveloping and implementing point solutions can drive operational improvements, but the reality is that it’s a shortsighted strategy. Ten or 15 years ago, that might not have been as true, but today’s comprehensive solutions across manufacturing operations management (MOM), industrial energy management (IEM), and enterprise quality management software (EQMS) are making a pretty strong case for enterprise-wide implementations that interoperate with other business systems. Companies adopting this strategy are realizing unforeseen cross-functional synergies and reaping massive benefits because of them.

A successful enterprise software implementation can transform your organization. Though, because it takes so many resources and impacts so many different areas of business, a failed one can also set you back quite a bit. From speaking with industry executives and surveying decision makers, it’s evident that the solution selection process is a major contributor to whether or not an enterprise implementation takes hold. Of course there are other contributing factors during and subsequent to the implementation, but your actual selection is the catalyst.

We’ve come up with a list of 6 reasons why your enterprise solution selection process might set you up for a failed implementation. Make sure to add your own thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.

1. You make your selection based solely on price

More often than not, companies are looking at price as one of the primary factors in the software selection process. Although this is a dimension that’s on everyone’s mind, it shouldn’t be your only deciding factor. With the maturation of cloud-based software and Software as a Service (SaaS), many solutions providers today have options that vary across the total cost of ownership required over the lifecycle of an investment. It’s also common for organizations to take a modular approach to deployment, implementing only the necessities up front, building a business case based on that ROI, and then scaling up from there. Many of the inquiries we receive for manufacturers looking for a new system are ripping and replacing the low cost option they attempted to implement two years ago.

Takeaway: Calculate your desired total cost of ownership and required ROI for each enterprise solution and then compare tweet this takeaway

2. You don’t develop a cross-functional selection team

Appointing one person or a few people to make an enterprise software selection has its limitations. Mainly, solutions such as MOM software and EQMS are meant to enable greater communication and collaboration across the value chain. There should be corresponding representation from these different functional areas in your solution selection team. Bringing in these different perspectives will give you better insight into how process content and data will be used in each respective functional area, and how you can leverage this new solution to develop closed-loop quality, manufacturing, and energy processes between them.

Takeaway: Cross-functional perspectives are key to successful enterprise software implementations tweet this takeaway

3. You make your decision based solely on previous experience

Times are different. People change jobs more often, and as a consequence, they bring with them diverse backgrounds. If someone on your solution selection team had success previously with one solution, it’s likely that he or she will err on the side of experience and push for that investment. While that may be a positive sign, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best bet for your organization. Your company undoubtedly has different resources – exiting IT architecture, business process maturity, culture, etc. – so make sure to keep an open mind.

Takeaway: Don’t make your solution selection decision based solely on someone’s previous experience tweet this takeaway

4. You select a standalone solution

Companies often look for a software solution because of a specific challenge. The challenge may be Manufacturing Execution or MES-related, managing documents, CAPA, production, inventory, or supplier quality management. While individual departments have budgets to invest in specific solutions, these decisions are often made in a vacuum and might not be the best move from a long-term IT and business process perspective. This goes back to not developing a cross-functional team. The more siloed you make your solution selection process, the more siloed your technology’s going to be now and in the future.

Takeaway: Take an enterprise approach to solution selection and look beyond how it’s going to benefit a single department tweet this takeaway

5. You’re only interested in the current capabilities of the solution

Products, processes, and supply chains are becoming more complex. Because solutions providers are constantly trying to keep up with these challenges, solutions are becoming more complex as well. In your solution selection process, don’t just identify solutions that can match your current needs, look for solutions that will be able to support your future needs. For instance, an F&B company that’s considering expanding into developing countries may require mobile and cloud support, especially as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) mandates better upstream traceability capabilities and recordkeeping.

Takeaway: Invest in a company that’s investing in its own enterprise software solution tweet this takeaway

6. You don’t do your homework

In addition to developing a cross-functional team, it’s important that your team members consume as much information as possible on the software selection process, the implementation process, the benefits of particular solutions, and so on. From independent analyst firms, to bloggers, publications, and even LinkedIn, there are a lot of valuable resources available to today’s software buyers. Not taking advantage of these resources will surely put you at a disadvantage, especially when close competitors are making them the basis for their decisions.

Takeaway: Software buyers are more empowered than ever before tweet this takeaway

Research Early and Research Often

If you’re thinking about an investment or just looking for ways to improve your existing processes, it’s critical that you stay up to date on the solution’s available today. LNS Research just launched its Manufacturing Operations Management Solution Selection Guide, which breaks down 20 market-leading vendors based on a number of dimensions: industries served, company sizes served, geographies served, technology platform, time to value, and so on. This guide gives executives everything needed to make a shortlist of potential manufacturing software vendors.

Those are our thoughts on enterprise software selection. What do you think makes a selection process successful?

Manufacturing Operations Management Solution Selection Guide

All entries in this Industrial Transformation blog represent the opinions of the authors based on their industry experience and their view of the information collected using the methods described in our Research Integrity. All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

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