Monday, 15 July 2013

Plan before you purchase

Organisations purchase systems for a variety of purposes, usually to make a difference to the way they operate. They might want to save money, generate efficiencies of scale or provide better management information. 

If you intend installing a new system, the best way of ensuring you have a successful outcome is to be clear exactly why you want to change, and to plan appropriately.

LACK OF A CLEAR VISION
Many managers purchase a new system simply because the old one is a bit long in the tooth, but they lack a clear vision about where they are going with the new one. The result is often that the new software barely performs better than the old, and after a few years it, too, is a bit long in the tooth and needs replacing. 

Before a system is selected, the organisation should have a clear idea as to why they are buying it. They should understand the benefits it is intended the new system should bring, thus justifying its cost.



TIME FOR A CHANGE
Some time ago I met a manager who was about to spend a large sum of money on a new system. He felt it was time for a change, and he had been given a budget to spend. Various colleagues from IT and Purchasing were assisting him, so the technical process of buying the system could not be faulted. 

BUT HE HAD NO VISION ABOUT WHAT WAS INTENDED FOR THE NEW SOFTWARE! 

Yes, there were lots of new features he might implement, but he had not costed the resources required to set them up. The danger I saw was that he would commit his organisation to a large expense, with no-one having a clear view as to why this money was being spent.


AUDIT
Another customer, who bought an excellent system a few years ago, called me in to carry out an audit of their installation. It was apparent that the company was operating in much the same way as it had before they installed the new software. Adequate management reports were being produced, but few of the new facilities available with the new system had been implemented. 

The system had merely replaced its predecessor –it was faster and easier to use – but a wide range of benefits had been completely ignored. Managers were so busy with their day job that they had forgotten why they had purchased the new system. My main recommendation to this customer was to start using their system differently, getting true benefits from it including reduced costs and better management information.


PLAN YOUR PROJECT
If you are going to spend a significant amount of money then start with a clear list of benefits which you propose to get from the project. Prepare a plan so that the new features are implemented within an appropriate timescale. 

Then ensure that the project is managed in such a way that the anticipated benefits are achieved. And review the project at the end to make sure you actually did what you intended.


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