Fundamental Considerations Before Buying Enterprise Software To Manage Your Commodity or Energy Value Chain

The world of software today brings the benefits of efficiency, productivity, and activity improvement to all organisations seeking to combat the competition and become more competitive. No matter what business need the software market is serving, from cloud computing capabilities to #ERP and #CTRM upgrades and new projects, to automation tools based on artificial intelligence or faster processing options, the software market offers a wide array of options.

Before you make a decision, be sure you thoroughly weigh all the available information and think through all the implications. Before finalising a software purchase, here are our suggestions.


Talk To Existing Clients

If your company is going to rely on software or a service, you need to talk to people who already use it. The most important thing you should ask them is what happens when things go wrong. A vendor must be able to respond to problems when they arise because things will always go wrong, and how they handle those times will tell you how reliable they will be. 


Check That It Ticks All The Boxes

The list of needs and wants that you have for your company should be considered when evaluating software vendors. You shouldn’t compromise here, especially if the software you are considering purchasing is crucial for daily operations. Don’t close the deal until you are sure the vendor can deliver.


Always Look For Alternative Options

People may not know which software option is best for them due to the abundance of apps available on the market. Most people go with the crowd and pick the first google result that they see, but this leads them to choose something that is unsuitable for their specific needs. Finding alternatives to that piece of software or app is the best way to combat this problem. The end result will probably be better. 


Use The Software

Before closing a deal, use the software with the data and in the environment intended. Most good vendors will offer full-feature trials. Using them in context is key in determining if the software performs the desired function, handles problems correctly, and deals with the scale and scope of the data you plan to process. This can also uncover issues such as ease of use and adaptability.


Assess Impact On People

Are your people affected by the new software? You are not buying software, but instilling in your teams more productive and efficient work habits. Take a look at three impact areas: administration, usage, and support practices. The tool is a waste of money if no one has time to develop the right habits to use it. It is people’s practices that make software useful.


Define Success Together

Don’t be tempted to buy the latest shiny new toy. As a business, agree on a plan for implementation, usage, and what success will look like together. By doing this, you can ensure that the solution you are buying actually solves a business problem. This will also make sure that the vendor can see how they can help you, since software platforms typically have multiple applications.


Make Sure You Can Get Your Data Out

Even if you do a lot of due diligence on the vendor, things may go wrong. You may need to switch and get your data out. Before you sign the contract, you should figure out how to do it. Good vendors will gladly tell you how to do it, while bad ones will want to lock you in and take your data hostage. Don’t forget to plan for vendor divorce! 


Know Your Goals

You should know what your strategic goals are and what pain points you intend to solve before investing in a new software platform. If you can get a free trial, take it! Test it out to make sure it meets your expectations and will achieve the goals you have set for your business.


Always Check The SLA

Before signing a contract, always check in detail the contractual service level agreement, which defines the exact services the vendor will deliver. Clarify the risks and how your business is protected by verifying how licenses are defined. It’s important because it frames who gets custody of the software and the data in case of a divorce.


Make A Final Analysis

Price alone shouldn’t be the deciding factor. Consider reputation, stability, R&D, and references when making a decision. If it has changed since you last used the product, you should also request another demo. Don’t forget to include all personnel who will be using the software as well. This will ensure the tool is robust enough for you and your team to use.


Run Vendors Through Your Third-Party Risk Management Process

Managing third-party risks is crucial when working with any vendor. Vendors are a major cause of breaches, which are happening at an alarming rate. Software vendors who do not ensure the software will be kept updated on a regular basis regarding security are a huge red flag.


Look For A Strong Product Roadmap

Make sure the vendor has a strong product roadmap that can support your future direction. With the world shifting from CAPEX to OPEX models, you are no longer buying a technology box or software package that will depreciate over time. The new model is more of a long-lasting partnership, so make sure that the future roadmap matches what you need as an enterprise.


Clearly Define Current Needs & Future Requirements

Establish a clear understanding of your immediate needs to ensure that the contract covers all major requirements, without overpaying for features or license levels not required in the initial phase. There should be a clear upgrade path that allows scaling and coverage of expanded scope. This avoids entering a contract involving unnecessary costs for licenses and functionality. 

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About the Author

Jason Novobranec is Implementary’s Chief Operating Officer.

With over 20 years of Consulting, Program Management & Senior Leadership experience, Jason has delivered initiatives for large multi-national / multi-regional organisations as well as SME’s and is an expert in shaping solutions to fit a customer’s project needs.