We know there’s a lot to think about, and we’ve given you a lot of questions to consider. That’s why we’ve put together this helpful guide to read as you go through our ‘Alternative Tender’.
8/10… 3/10… 6/10… until fairly recently, most clients judged potential suppliers with a simple scoring system based on functionality.
This may have worked years ago, when systems were new and had diverse levels of functionality. But things have long since changed. In today’s mature market, we know that most providers offer pretty much the same functionality, so it should no longer be a central concern for you.
So rather than asking suppliers if they’re able to cover all aspects of functionality (to which, they’ll most likely say yes), let’s refine our functionality list by focusing on those critical requirements only. What’s critical to your organisation, and which supplier can best help deliver it in the way you need?
Another benefit of refining down a tender is that it will take less time for the supplier to complete. A supplier will make sure to pass any costs on to you if it takes a huge amount of resource for them to do. So not only will a more focused tender get you what you really need, but it willalso be better value for money.
There’s another glitch to watch out for. Relying solely on a functionality scoring system can skew things towards over the top functionality that is way beyond what anyone would actually need. For instance, if
you’re looking for something that’ll get you from A to B, Apollo 13 can travel round the moon and back. It would score really highly on a functionality test, but it’s not the best option for getting to the shops.
Define your priorities, and then check the system delivers these well.
What’s more, focusing on the functionality scoring will mean that other important factors may be left behind when it comes to making the big decision. We know it’s no longer about whether it can enter a purchase order (they all can), so we need to focus on defining what’s important to the organisation in a wider sense - as you’ll see in the rest of this guide.
Size is no safety net. Northern Rock, BCCI, Kodak weren’t too big to
fail, and neither is anyone else. A company can have a huge turnover but with equally large losses.
So aim for a company that has a clear focus and a solid customer base. In the unlikely event that anything goes belly up, the company’s vision and success would make them a tasty acquisition for any competitor, so they’d soon get snapped up anyway.
Don’t forget to look under their financial bonnet. Last year may look good, but if they’ve borrowed some money and are in debt, then those earnings will go straight out again! A useful online tool for exploring
financial credentials is Duedil (www.duedil.com), simply enter the supplier’s details in to see their financial profile.
All too often the high-end features included in a demonstration or presentation aren’t actually included in the quote. So make sure you obtain a full A to Z list of everything that’s included.
Every end user and team using the software will need some form of support. So make sure you know what kind of support structure will work for your organisation and what the supplier is offering you. For example, will there be online support, and will you have a consistent go to person for support requests?
Find out how long this could take. Do the timescales seem long to you? In reality, it shouldn’t take months to do, so find out whether the testing could take place as part of the build.
There are two key reasons why suppliers don’t want to cut a 50-day implementation down to a 20-day one:
1. They make more profit from the extra consultancy days.
2. A supplier would have to invest in enabling quicker implementations. Which would mean a smaller invoice. So, why would they want to do that?
A good supplier won’t pull the wool over people’s eyes. Instead, they should pull out all the stops to get systems implemented as quickly as possible. They know that if they get things right first time, you’ll like them for it. If you’re happy with how things have gone, then they are too.
Think about where your business is headed, and your goals. It’s important to recognise the essential items and the optional items before you start off in any direction. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Take the time to ask them and check for yourself. Also find out how big their portfolio is, and check they can carry on supporting it.
Put them alongside your organisation. Do you make a good fit? It’s not about one organisation being right and the other being wrong, it’s about finding a supplier that you can see yourself working with for years and years to come.
Do you feel they are after a long term relationship or just a short term jump in their profits?
A step by step guide to reviewing accounting software
Is your software supplier helping you succeed?