Efficiency, Accountability and Measurement. These are just some of the benefits a management system can bring to a business, regardless of size. The process of finding the right management system can be daunting, but this task can be tackled easily by following a checklist of key considerations.
Learn the alphabet. Businesses love their acronyms: Terms like CMS, TMS, LMS, QMS, SMS can seem like alphabet soup. These are just short cuts for commonly utilized system software developed to manage various functions that a company may be doing on a regular basis. Learn what they are and narrow the search to the genre that best fits your needs.
CRM – Customer Relationship Management
TMS – Transportation Management System
CMS – Content Management System - used to create and manage digital web content
QMS – Quality Management System - captures, manages and analyzes real-time operations data
PMP – Project Management Professional
ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning
Map the business flow. Document your process from start to finish. At each step, question why things are done “that way” and identify areas for improvement. Is there redundancy in data, forms, communication? Can manual processes be automated? What are the most common errors and areas with a single point of failure? Now is the time to make the changes needed.
Determine the Skill Set Needed to Be Successful. Do you need to be a programmer to use the tool? Easy to learn, user friendly software is a must. This is the premise for "low-code" / "no-code" platforms. If every improvement or modification requires a programmer, costs could skyrocket or worse, fall to the wayside leaving the system less effective. Ask questions about training, pre-requisite knowledge required and the process for future customization.
Select Software that Allows for Real-time Information Sharing. Companies need to share documents across their team members and potentially across businesses. From budgets to calendars to project plans, sharing the most current version is critical to efficient communication. Find software that allows the latest documents to be viewed and edited while limiting access based upon security clearance level.
Customize to Meet Your Specific Needs. Businesses are different. They change and grow regularly. What works for one company may need to be modified for another. The ability to customize forms, fields, tables and other components to match your unique business processes is important. Ask how difficult it is to change these types of items both up front as well as post implementation. Don’t forget to ask if there will be a fee associated with various change requests and how long they typically take.
Create Robust Reporting. Does the software you are evaluating have the ability to create unlimited, interactive reports? How difficult is it to mine the data maintained? What type of reporting options exist: Dashboards that are automatically populated, ad-hoc querying, triggered set ups? What proportion of these features are “self-serve” vs. require a member of their team to deliver? The value of the software will only be as good as the reporting that it delivers.
Go “lights out” where Possible. Manually entering data can increase chances of error. Even automated processes run by one team member vs. another can return different results. Look for data integration and the ability to import and export data with ease. You expect to send data into the software tool but what data can be exported and loaded back into your source systems to enhance the way they function? Two-way integration and automation are big wins.
Protect your Information. In this era of hacking and data breaches, make sure your vendors and their products meet your requirements for security and reliability. How is data transferred to and from the system? How is your data stored when it is “at rest”? Does the software differentiate access by user and utilize specific and trackable credentials to limit entry? Data protection is a shared responsibility.
Ask for the Product Roadmap. When was the last time a new version was rolled out? Is there a fee in order to get the latest functionality? What types of upgrades are planned for the next 1-2 years? How does the vendor decide which upgrades make the product roadmap? Your business needs to stay current and so do the tools you use.
Verify with References. Ask the vendors you are assessing for case studies and references in your specific industry and usage needs. Follow up by contacting those references to understand their experiences, not only with the software, but with the customer support team and user community. Save yourself from a bad experience thru proper vetting.
A management system is any software tool that enables a business to set and meet goals through documentation, tracking of progress, reporting and managing defined procedures that everyone can follow. Regardless of the acronym, evaluating any software solution is the same. Find a tool that empowers easily, manages your assets and automates your processes…. and don’t forget to trust but verify before you buy!
Juiced Technologies offers big business solutions that small businesses can afford. To learn more visit: www.juicedtech.com