When researching business process management software, you’ll find a lot of dense material. Of course, the material is written for professionals at a level where they’re making major purchasing decisions for large corporations. But the reality is that the information needs to be accurate and easy to digest. Let’s face it: anyone making large purchasing decisions doesn’t have the luxury of time to read through tons of information.
When considering business process management, we’re talking about streamlining your processes to decrease mistakes and increase productivity. But how do you determine whether you need to upgrade to new software? And how do you determine which solution is the best one for your business?
Before the Purchase — Assessing Your Needs
It’s easy to get pulled into a sales pitch if the product promises great returns. And there are a lot of business process management solutions on the market that offer excellent features. But the real determining factor of success in implementing any program is in your company’s ability to use it.
If you take an itemized inventory of every software solution you’ve purchased, you’ll find that many of the programs are not used to their capacity. Some are never implemented at all. In some cases, you’ll have a lack of conformity in the company, where some employees embrace the upgrade and others avoid it.
The best way to make certain that the purchase is necessary and will reap benefits is by assessing where your current process is.
Conduct a thorough audit of your current business process management protocol. If you have business process management software in place, assess how well the features are being used across departments. If the current system is lacking features, build a list of all of the features that would improve workflow and streamline the process in each department and overall.
A complete evaluation will give you a detailed view of the areas where your company can improve efficiency and productivity. Don’t forget to list the areas where your company excels. If you do decide to upgrade to a new program, you’ll want to make certain that you’re not compromising current excellence in the hope of improving other areas.
Once you’ve completed an evaluation and concluded that you do need a more robust solution, you’ll have an exact list of specifications for your business. You can fine tune your search to address the areas where improvements are needed.
Researching Your Business Process Management Software Options
There are no right or wrong ways to research the best solutions for your business. Each industry has their own priorities. While a business with high regulatory requirements might prioritize a solution that caters to their specific compliance needs, another company may prioritize ease of use. Ideally, you want to find the solution that best matches your industry, business model, and challenges.
Here are a few good strategies to promote a well-researched, successful choice:
- Build an Initial List Based on Top Priorities. You’ll have a few items that are most important to your upgrade. When you start your initial research, only add solutions to your list that meet those needs. This will likely still leave you with a good number of choices.
- Narrow Down Your Choices. Having too many choices sounds like a good thing, but it’s more confusing. Narrow down the list to the top choices, possibly three or five.
- Intense Research on Existing Options. The last phase of researching should include compiling a pros and cons list between the different options. This list would include things like capabilities, which processes this solution will improve, whether it will likely impede productivity during implementation, training and customer service. You’ll also need to do a cost analysis for each option.
Each company has their own protocols for purchasing. If you’re compiling the research for a team or board, you may need to put this information into a cohesive report so that the committee can make the final decision.
In your research, make sure that you view case studies that relate to your business. This can give you an overall idea of ROI on implementation.
Choosing a software or hiring a vendor can be a lot like hiring an employee. You need to make sure that the features fit the company culture and that the tools will improve current protocols.
Here are a few top concerns to address before making the final decision:
- Integration. No matter what type of software you choose, you need to verify how that software will integrate with current programs and processes. You can buy a program with all of the bells and whistles. But if it doesn’t integrate with the system you’ve been using for the past 10 years, how much does it hurt you? Will you need to take up employee time manually transferring information? Also, you may want to continue using some or many of your current programs. Will you need to purchase new programs in order to integrate with this system?
- Training/Support. Ease of use is often a top priority, but training and support should be too. The solution you choose should offer effective training to help all employees master new protocols in the shortest time possible.
- Past Performance. Some options will have a track record in your specific industry. In other cases, you might choose an out-of-the-box solution that can be personalized to fit your needs. Your chosen vendor should be able to offer references and reliable information about their performance with clients.
- Security. The solution you choose should be able to verify their security measures so that you can continue to offer your clients the best protection against data breaches.
Business process management software allows your company to streamline workflow and minimize the risk of errors. As with all things, the work you put into it will determine the benefits you get out. Choosing the right solution is your starting point. Making sure it’s implemented uniformly across your company can help you reap the best results possible.