I've seen thousands of food businesses make decisions on business software over the last twenty-five years.  I've won a lot of deals, I've lost a lot of deals, but the losses that hurt most are when a potential client makes a mistake and buys 'the wrong' software.  I'll see these companies shopping again a year later, and tens of thousands of dollars poorer with no improvement to their business.  Today we'll talk about how to avoid that situation.

Avoid Expensive Business Software Mistakes

I like to equate purchasing business software to buying a car or other vehicle.  You wouldn't go into a dealership without knowing what you're going to use the vehicle for (people moving, package delivery, construction), what accessories and features might be most important to you, and what your budget is.  Unfortunately many food businesses show a lack of preparation similar to this when they look to purchase software.

So let's work together to solve that problem by outlining a software selection process.

Step One:
What Are You Doing Now?

Take a step back and look at what you're doing today, then document all those activities.  Once you start shopping you'll see a lot of glittering possibilities and it can be hard to remember all the gritty details that, if forgotten, can cause your software implementation to fail.

  • Identify every document, form, and report that runs through your office.
  • List all the procedures necessary for people to do their work.
  • Ask yourself 'how do these add value for my customers'.  This examination should help you eliminate steps even before you select a system.

Step Two:
What Do We Need, Want, and Wish For?

Now that you have a list of 'features' you might use in your vehicle it is time to decide which are requirements, which are important (but not required), and which would be nice to have.

  • Involve all key staff.  Now is the time for blue-sky discussion about 'the perfect system'.
  • Put it down on paper in three clear categories
    • Absolute Needs
    • Wanted Features
    • Wish List
  • Don't be afraid of an extensive 'wish list', but carefully review each 'absolute need.'

Step Three:
Start the Search.

Companies that skip the previous steps often 'shop for software' this puts most at a disadvantage because they aren't experts in business software.  This search isn't about 'the software' it is about your business.

  • Remember:  No-one knows your business better than you
  • Eliminate software options that do not meet all of your absolute needs
    • If you eliminate all your options then you may need to revisit your needs list
  • See the software in action through demonstrations or site visits (get their consultants involved, don't rely on the literature.)
  • References. References, References. Don’t just ask how do they like the system, ask how difficult it was to implement. Would they do it over again. Hard questions before investing cost nothing.

Step Four:
Making the Decision.

After taking the steps above you'll have gathered the information you need to make an educated decision.  A detailed study of your business, a detailed list of what you need, want and wish to achieve, and a detailed study of the software.

  • Try to make it a group decision so the group takes ownership. This will aid significantly in the deployment of the system.  The group will strive to show their decision was right.
  • Treat the system as a payroll cost, even a $100,000 system will cost $2,000 a month significantly less than a valued administrative employee.
  • Dedicate the resources to install. An asset not used is a liability.


Follow these simple steps to avoid a mistake and save big $’s



Issue 640 - Everything Cycles.

Transformation and disruption was a topic in an article in the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer. I read about the demise of Sears & Roebuck titled The Big Stumble. They believed they had no competitors. The New York Times dubbed them "The Amazon of the gilded age." Those of us in the baby boom generation remember Sears.  As a young boy I remember thumbing through the catalog, dreaming of what I could buy if I had the money.

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