Your company is growing fast and hiring at insane pace. You needed a smart supply chain software yesterday and racing against time to make the right investment. Simultaneously, you must balance with thorough due diligence as the decision maker. Here are 5 steps to sequence through, and some questions to answer towards making the best decision.
1. Does the system clearly solve today’s area of focus and need?
Your needs are varied and complex as a fast growing company. The 1st step is to prioritize your requirements down to the 1 or 2 main areas to solve today. Evaluate if the systems in your choice set address these “now” needs from a workflow and functionality standpoint. Additionally, how long will it take your team to be LIVE? The system might well address your “now” needs, but that might be a moot point if it will take you over 6+ months to be LIVE on the system.
2. How are your needs going to evolve tomorrow and can this system help you then? Will the system limit you as you scale or give you more agency?
As a fast-scaling operation, your needs will evolve and you might have a requirements roadmap for 6, 12 and 24 months from now. How do you envision building out your supply chain technology stack? One approach is to invest in more systems as you scale. Alternately, it is far easier if the system of choice can seamlessly scale with your needs for expanded functionality and/or give you plug-ins to integrate with additional systems of choice, so your data sets are auto-connected as your tech stack grows.
3. Are you satisfied with data, security, compliance, and hosting capabilities for today, and as you scale?
Often there is a lot of focus on functionality and not enough on data compliance and security. Supply chain teams are geographically dispersed so it is critical to understand if the system has the same uptime across the world, and if speed and data hosting capabilities remain strong as data sets grow in volume.
4. Pricing – can you forecast your TCO accurately atleast 3 years out?
While it is attractive to have shorter time commitments when signing onto a new system, the flip side can be a loose grip on total cost of ownership 2 to 5 years out. A simple and transparent pricing model that allows you to forecast your total cost of ownership in the future is an added advantage when picking the correct system for your company. Few parameters to discuss with the chosen vendor in forecasting total cost as you scale include number of users, additional functionality you might need, higher volume of data sets, and volume of transactions flowing through the system
5. Do you like and trust the team and company?
The last but likely the most important factor influencing your decision involves the team and the company behind the software product. What is the kind of team you are interacting with? Are they at the vanguard of innovation leading with highest quality of thought leadership, and can they be a strategic partner helping guide your supply chain and data strategy? It is also important to discuss internally the ideal size of company you would like your vendor to be. Each size has its pros and cons. A large company may have a settled product, but the pace of service and innovation could be slow. A very small company could mean an immature product suite. Irrespective and ultimately, the decision comes down to whether you like and trust the team you will be working with. Functionality, modern interfaces and thought leadership are critical but so are relationships.