It's time to narrow-down your list of agency management solutions.
You have to consider a lot of things in the decision process. You have clarified what you need, want, the issues that must be overcome, and how many users (licenses) you will need. Some applications are far better than others in some areas but not in others – or some simply check off a lot more boxes. What’s more important? In all the solutions I’ve used, seen, demoed – one size does not fit all. If I could pick the best features from each and put them together. . . Voila! Perfect!
So, one way (and one that I always employ) is a weighted scorecard. It’s a pretty simple concept, and when you’re trying to solve issues for multiple areas (accounting, creative, and so on), knowing what’s more important can tip the scales on a final decision.
Take your requirements document, it’s been categorized to departments (areas), and a list of requirements sorted by “absolutes / needs / would like to have” for each.
Absolutes are deal-breakers. If the application doesn’t provide it, it’s likely not a contender.
Needs are the things that will streamline operations by eliminating all that redundant drudgery, and will provide a toolkit to really organize your workflow.
Would like to have are those items that perhaps work the way you work (which means less change to your current workflow and less disruption upon implementation) and make your life easier. And a note about “would likes” . . . Ask your rep if their solution can be configured to accommodate your wish list, or, if the provider is willing to do custom programming. Many software providers have the capability to do custom programming for a fee, but sometimes a provider will customize or build a program for you for a small fee (or free) – just ask.
So here’s a simple example of a scorecard – and some advice: Your requirements list will probably be pretty large. It should be a list of everything that addresses everyone’s issues – then consolidated into a clean list. Do be prepared to speak to requests that cannot or will not be addressed. While we’re all hopeful to fix everything, reality can be an immovable object. We’re working on optimizing workflow while retaining employee engagement. More on that later.
There can be a lot of pressure to place a higher value on some items or areas. But ultimately, the purpose of any solution is to increase collaboration and accuracy, reduce redundancy and errors, and be the central hub for everything relating to a project. Always consider the people doing the work and interacting with the applications. If they don’t use it, the value of the solution is greatly diminished.
In other words, it doesn’t work if you don’t use it. Get it?
Okay, it may be boring, but it provides simple structure for decision-making. Use it or something like it and keep it as part of your records, because down the road, someone will ask why someone else’s requirement was more important than their requirement. It’s not just one thing, it’s everything.
When I fill in my scorecard, I use a range, one (1) to ten (10). One (1) being in the would like range (employees can use a gif as an avatar – yes I had this request); 10 in the absolute range (must have customizable billing).
Alright, on the scorecard I included cost. Be sure to get costs from your vendors. Costs can include licensing fees (and termination fees), storage, setup, custom programming, implementation assistance, training, support, hardware (some solutions can be hosted on your own server instead of the cloud), and consultants. In my reviews, many providers have knowledgeable staff who can help you through the process. Some don’t but have a list of consultants you can hire to assist in all or part of the process which will incur additional fees.
For some agencies and departments, cost is a huge factor. If it is, cost may be the deal breaker, so get a preliminary estimate upfront. Once you refine your requirements, get a revised estimate. If cost isn’t an issue do get your estimates anyway. Expenditures, whether in an agency or department must be planned and tracked.
Now do the math. Which solution has the highest score? Are there a couple that are close? Often, a comfort level with the vendor can make the difference. They should be there to help you. Next, have a discussion with your team. What does your gut tell you? If there is any doubt, now is the time to ask questions and get answers. This is a big change for your team and worth clarifying all issues.
Have your answer? Great! Let your selected vendor know, and plan your kickoff. Also, let the vendors that didn't make the cut know as well. Tell them thanks, and tell them why. It helps them improve their product.
Tired and weary? Let me sum it up:
- Categorize and consolidate your Requirements List
- Add columns for Value, Score and Total
- Fill in your scorecard soon after your demo
- Get estimates
- Do the math
- Meet with the team for Decision Time
What’s next? Will this never end?
Yes, the end is in sight, but it’s only the beginning. Start planning – signing the contract; setting up / configuring; training; rolling it out to everyone.
Put together a schedule.
Next, the rollout plan.