A Step Towards Procuring the Right Planning and Reporting Solution
Many of us dread making significant systems purchases because of the sales experience. Of course, software companies want our business but all too often they present to us a long-proven sales formula that fits their modus operandi but at the expense of the client’s real requirements.
We know we have to engage multiple candidates as part of our due diligence and fend off their appetite for our business, which includes a push for functionality we may not need. It can be a daunting and tiring process, cutting through all the information and segmenting those aspects of relevance to the sought-after solution.
So, we need to prepare before we engage. We need to clearly identify our true needs and articulate them in a manner to convey the priority criteria in our decision making. If the seller understands the need, they can quickly get to the point of their solution.
Detailed RFP’s serve to do this to a point but are often prepared by those other than end users, so there can be some disconnect. They can be prepared by analysts and enterprise architects, who, whilst technically skilled, can have limited understanding of the marketplace they are embarking into. This can result in generic RFP’s, resulting in generic responses. RFP’s serve as a platform to evaluate solutions and serviceability but can miss a fundamental element, the appetite and ability to accommodate change within the organisation, at the user level. Is the infrastructure in place, are the team on board, are they the right team to drive the vision and are the end users engaged?
As much as procurement teams need to prepare, there is a changing tide in the sales process. As former solution sellers, sitting on the procurement side, we have learnt the importance of listening to the buyer more than preaching to them. We can draw out their requirements before bombarding them with the pitch, which in this day and age, is reasonably consistent amongst CPM vendors. As with most software solutions, there is overlap in functionality with other products already servicing other parts of the business, so much of the sales pitch can quickly be identified as low priority in the selection criteria. In scenarios where products and pitches are remarkably similar, the differentiator for the purchaser will be the implementation partner. Are they listening to our needs?, do they understand what we do and don't want? The sooner these questions are answered, the more likely the right procurement selection will be made.
We do not claim to be experts in sales and procurement processes, but our experience has reinforced our view, that independent guidance from industry specialists, who have sat on both sides of the fence, can help to produce efficient and targeted procurement of a planning and reporting solution.
Has there ever been a more critical time to address the financial planning and analysis capabilities within your business?
CPM Partners are independent consultants. Our Principal has over 20 years experience, designing and implementing planning and reporting solutions for corporate Australia.