CONTRIBUTION BY Michael R. Blumberg – Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and President & CEO of Blumberg Advisory Group
We’ve spoken to hundreds of companies to find out about their experiences when purchasing enterprise software for service (also known as Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) software). We’ve distilled the knowledge we gained into 6 tips to help you when you are in the market for enterprise service software.
You are likely doing research before you ever even engage a vendor, but when it’s time to start talking to software providers, what should you expect? First of all, most vendors will give some sort of brief, high level demonstration of the software during your initial call. This typically is just meant to give you an idea of how the software works. More detailed, customized demos will follow and at this time more thorough vendors will ask you to fill out a demo prep form so they can tailor the demonstration to your needs. You may also be asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement so the vendor can freely share confidential information. Don’t expect more than a ballpark figure of the cost of the software on the first call; you’ll need to fully discuss your needs and expectations before getting more detailed pricing. This process also provides the opportunity for you and the software vendor to determine if you are the right fit for each other. Figure 1 shows the expectations of the software buyers we surveyed recently.
As you get further along in the sales process, most buyers (71% according to our survey) expect there to be a requirement of a current state assessment (also known as a discovery or needs analysis) prior to implementation. This assessment will ensure that your processes are well defined and documented (broken processes are one of the biggest reasons for failed software implementations), uncover all necessary data connections, and will ensure a smooth implementation.
There are a number of vendors offering Service Lifecycle Management software. Wading through the options can be overwhelming. Figure 2 indicates what your peers look for in a vendor. The top three factors are software feature and functionality, technical competency of vendor, and vendor flexibility. All the respondents rated these factors as either the most important or second most important factor when purchasing service software.
While you want to ensure that the vendor has all the features and functions you need right now to solve your immediate pain points, you don’t want to ignore your future growth and needs. Just because you don’t need upsell/cross-sell or knowledge management now doesn’t mean you won’t need it in a year or two. Think about what kind of functionality you might need in the next 3 to 5 years and make sure your selected vendor has that capability.