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In my previous post I wrote about the limited value of a long questionnaire for selecting EPM software. Such questionnaires feel more like a market study than a software selection. How often do vendors respond with answers that the prospect likes to read? Yes … almost 100%. That has to do with how questions are formulated. If there is some room for interpretation vendors will not ask for clarification but will answer it in the way that is favorable to them. And that is their good right.

For me software selection is more about a step-by-step elimination of alternatives. And you do that by starting with the most important criteria first. For example, if the most important criterium for you is software in the cloud then you can eliminate all the ones that do not offer that. If the second most important criterium is price, then you can eliminate all the vendors that can’t offer the software within your budget. This way you can continue to eliminate vendors using disqualifying criteria until you have three vendors left. My experience is that five to seven well defined criteria should do the job to narrow down the list to three vendors. From those you can ask for a demo based on your business case.

The point I want to make is that software selection should be based on the needs and wishes of the organization and users. For some the price is extremely important, for others it is not. For some simplicity is important, for others advanced features. For some it is about data integration for others it is about manual data entry or copy/paste. For some it is about robustness of the system for others it is about flexibility/adaptability, etc.

In my previous post used the analogy of buying a car. When you look for an electric SUV for less than $75k then it does not make sense to check the specs of all type of cars. You are interested in the specs of electric SUVs with a starting price below $75k. So basically, you start your search and selection from what YOU need and want. Not what is all available on the market.

Sometimes the ‘Need’ is the same as the ‘Must have’. But when you are given the choice to label a feature as ‘Must have’ versus ‘Nice to have’ then many will opt for ‘Must have’ when they are in doubt. And this way you end up with way too many ‘Must have’ features of which many do not really reflect the true business needs. It is the same for ‘Wish’ versus ‘Nice to have’. Nice to have features often refer to functionalities you never have thought about, and probably never will use, but they seem interesting. Wishes are defined by users and/or organizations and are more descriptive by nature. For instance, ‘It would be great if we can integrate cost allocation with transfer pricing.’.

In my next post I will give an overview of some of the software vendors that are in the market for cost calculation, profitability analysis and transfer pricing. Stay tuned.

Post Author: Frank van Vliet

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