Welcome back to the second part in a three-part blog series designed to help managers and glass/window/door company owners find the best software solution for their company. Part I covered the concerns of why people don’t change their old software and the first two steps in the strategy: Knowing Your Objective and Prioritizing Your Needs.
As a friendly reminder, parts of steps can merge, move, or disappear based on the situation/needs of your company. These steps are only a basic guideline to help guide your initial search. As you dive deeper into your search, steps or parts of steps could move.
Today we’re going to cover Planning Your Strategy Steps (3 & 4):
- Create a Software Vendor Short List
- Validate Your Short List (a.k.a. Make Exclusions)
Step 3: Create a Software Vendor Short List
At this point, we will throw spaghetti at the wall. In Step 4, we’ll focus on the spaghetti that actually sticks. In Step 3, you should list every software system out there you know that services the glass, window, and/or door industry. This list will include industry-specific companies and more general companies. Ways to find software suppliers, include Google searches (depends on the keywords you use), industry-specific magazines/websites/trade shows, competitors, suppliers, and industry colleagues.
This is a time, if you can afford to, to employ a research/consulting firm. They can help you develop a list of software providers as well as criteria to grade potential software solutions, ask additional essential/conditional/nice-to-have questions, and eventually help you shortlist software suppliers.
Additionally, before we go onto Step 4, I should remind you of something we’ve found at my firm that is very important. As you search for a software supplier and narrow in on the specific software solution, keep in mind your company’s hardware needs. You need to have a firm understanding of the technical components, internet speed into your building and connection to other buildings (if you have any), the manufacturing machines you are interfacing into, on premise or cloud servers and their specs, networking, and much more. This information will be covered in more depth in Part III, so stay tuned!
Step 4: Validate Your Short List (a.k.a. Make Exclusions)
Now we will start to see which spaghetti sticks to the wall and weed out close-but-no-cigar choices. In this Step, you will whittle out unsuitable entries. Depending on your company, you will have different criteria by which to whittle out serious versus unsuitable software solutions. In our experience, a good place to start is as follows (FYI, these are just guidelines and not hard-and-fast rules.):
- Technological Preference
Based on these three criteria, you can possibly narrow your search quickly, but these criteria can also help open your eyes to flaws in your own search methodology. It is important to be open to feedback from outsiders, including customers, suppliers, and software suppliers. Making a connection with team members on the software supplier side is undervalued but highly important in your search. Having an advocate on your side within the software supplier can be invaluable in your search and future partnership.
When you do exclude a software supplier, it is worth noting in your Google Sheet or Microsoft Excel spreadsheet the reason(s). That way, if your requirements change in the future, you can re-examine the company as an option.
At this time, you could ask for virtual or in-person demonstrations to further narrow down your short list. That is up to you, but do know that a demonstration can be vital to make the best decision possible. More on that in Step 5.
Having accomplished Steps 1-4, you should be ready to move onto the final two stages, which we’ll cover in the next blog.