SoftResources – Updated Website

Posted by Admin on August 16, 2012 under Software Selection Tips | Be the First to Comment

It has been a while since we have posted a blog entry on this site because we have been hard at work updating our website. We are happy to announce that our new website has been updated and you can check it out at www.softresources.com.

We are also kicking off our Social Media program where you can like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, connect with us on LinkedIn, and watch us on Youtube. We are excited to continue to provide the latest in software selection techniques, update you on the latest software vendor market happenings, and provide informative information about software vendors.

Posted By: Spencer Arnesen

Document Management Software

Posted by Admin on May 4, 2012 under Software Selection Tips | Be the First to Comment

Are you buried in a mound of documents? You’re not alone! That’s why we’ve been seeing a lot of interest in document management solutions. But be aware, the vendors are very good at telling you how great their solutions are, but there are huge differences between vendors and what they can do.

Here are some things to think about as you do your search:

1. Understand your requirements! What do you need the system to do and why?

2. What industry are you in and what regulations, standard practices, etc. do you have?

3. What documents do you need to manage, how critical are they and how complex are your document management requirements? E.g. there is a huge difference if you are working with marriage certificates vs. handling complex engineering drawing and permits for a large public works project.

4. Research the vendors and their core competencies to determine which are the best fit for your requirements and your industry. E.g. some vendors excel at managing complex contracts and other legal documents, while others are more like an electronic file cabinet. Do they have experience with your applications and industry? What are their staff credentials?

5. How critical is it for you to access your documents, to have work flow, to have audit controls, check-in/check-out controls, version control, etc.? If it is important, you should go with an established vendor with out-of-the-box functionality and a proven track record doing what you need to have done.

6. If low cost is the main criteria, you may have to settle for an emerging vendor. You can often negotiate an excellent price and contract terms, but be careful of the risks. They may be easier to deal with because they are small and really want your business, but do they have sufficient capital to sustain themselves, will they be acquired, do they have the necessary experience to do what you need, do they have sufficient resources to support you or are you pretty much on your own, etc.?

7. Do you need a system that is highly flexible that you can tailor every time you change your processes? The trade-off may be that you have to do all of the design and development work. If you don’t have skilled professionals doing the design or if you don’t keep good documentation on what you’ve done, you may have major problems in the future.

8. What other systems does the document management system need to interface with? Does the system you selected work with your other systems, does the vendor develop and manage the interfaces for you, does the vendor have pre-developed interfaces with your systems, etc.?

A lot of organizations are using Microsoft’s SharePoint to handle their document management and collaboration requirements. It’s an excellent tool that Microsoft has been enhancing and there are an increasing number of SharePoint developers. The challenge is that it’s not an out-of-the box solution for specific applications as other solutions are. You have to design it to fit your needs. As one of our customers noted, “I love it, but I remind people that it’s like Excel. A great tool, but you have to figure out all the formulas, charts, pivot tables, etc. to meet your business needs. There may be off-the-shelf solutions that already do what you need that are well-tested and meet all regulatory requirements.

Keeping an Eye on the Turbulent ERP Market

Posted by Admin on March 7, 2012 under ERP Software, Software Selection Tips | Be the First to Comment

Keep a close eye on what is happening with the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) vendors this year and how that may impact you.

1. The economic downturn was a challenge for them, with many of them laying off employees. We saw things start to turn around for the vendors last year as companies started investing in software solutions that they had delayed for several years. As a result, those vendors with good momentum have had their resources stretched thin trying to meet increased sales activity and new implementations.

If you’re buying a new system, be sure you get experienced implementers who have a lot of experience implementing the system that you’re buying, whether it’s cloud-based or premises-based. The vendors with momentum are hiring and we’ve come across several whose key staff have been on board for less than 6 months.

2. Vendors with deep pockets have grown through acquisition the past few years, but be careful because these new acquisitions are often bolted on. A red flag is if the vendor has to bring several different people to demonstrate their solution or if you have to speak with several people to get your technical and functionality questions answered.

3. There were a lot of acquisitions in the past two years, and this will continue in the future. You need to be thinking about how this may impact the solution you are using or are thinking of purchasing, and start planning how you will identify contingencies and negotiate your contracts to mitigate your risks.

4. Was your vendor recently acquired? What is your customer support like? What new rules and guidelines are being imposed? Are you being required to sign a new agreement? Is your solution going to be discontinued? It’s a good time to start shopping around to see what options you have before making a commitment to the new vendor!

5. Look at the vendor’s new sales last year to get some clues. SAP and Infor did well, but Oracle’s applications software sales lagged. (It was hard to determine performance of Microsoft’s applications software, but it was probably fairly strong.)

For Oracle, we suspect that companies are concerned about the long-term viability of Oracle’s current solutions (e.g. PeopleSoft, e-Business, and JD Edwards) because of the development of its new Fusion product, and the fact that Oracle has not been willing to commit to good product assurance guarantees for protection of the company’s investment. At the same time, we’re seeing a number of companies replacing their Oracle systems with less expensive solutions from Microsoft, Epicor, Sage and Infor. Expect to see more acquisitions and aggressive sales from Oracle this year.

At the same time, keep an eye out for new vendors entering the marketplace; e.g. start-ups founded by experienced people who left Tier 1 vendors, existing vendors in niche areas that are expanding their footprint (such as ADP), and non-traditional vendors such as Google. This could make for some interesting times as they compete head-on!

6. Expect to see increasing international expansion. Be careful that you do your due diligence on who their customers are and where they are located. Is this a fit with your requirements? Have they developed localized solutions to meet the different country requirements? How do they handle multiple currencies? Can they report in the native currency and retain the books in the native currency? How do they consolidate reporting for multi-national companies?

Welcome to the Software Evaluation Blog!

Posted by on January 18, 2010 under Software Selection Tips | Be the First to Comment

Welcome to SoftResources’ software evaluation blog!  This site will be a great resource for you to get information about  business software (ERP, CRM, HR/PR, Financials, Projects, etc.) and how to go through the software selection process. Since founding SoftResources in 1995, we have conducted over 600 software evaluation and selection projects with companies both large and small. This blog will allow you to gain software vendor insight as we share our experience and vendor knowledge to help you through the software evaluation process. The purpose of this blog will be two-fold:

1. Software Evaluation/Selection Tips – We will provide software selection tips to help you improve your software selection process.

2. Software Vendor Information – We will provide information about software vendors and products including where they fit, what types of companies they focus on, some of the key advantages a software vendor or product offers, and how you can evaluate them to see if they would be a fit for your organization.

This site will include written posts, video blogs, and interviews with software vendors so you can get to know them and allow you to start the process of evaluating if they would be a good fit for your organization.

If you have questions, or would like more information regarding certain software vendors, email us at info@softwareevaluationblog.com. If you would like more information regarding software selection and how SoftResources can help you with a software selection project at your organization, check out SoftResources web site at www.softresources.com. The SoftResources website has a wealth of free information regarding the software selection process and how to take your software selection project step by step through the process. It also has some great tips on selecting a Value Added Reseller/Implementation Partner and software contract negotiation

Over the past 15 years and 600 software evaluation and selection projects we have found that a thorough evaluation of your software options is essential to making sure that you implement a software product that is a good fit, will help you grow, and is the right level of sophistication for your company. Too many organizations spend too much money and buy software that is overly complex for their needs! While many companies try to take shortcuts through the software selection process, putting together a good requirements document and properly evaluating your software options will mitigate the risk of a failed implementation.

We are looking forward to helping you evaluate software and lead a successful software selection and implementation project for your organization!