There are plenty of questions to ask vendors when contemplating a system change but the most important questions should be asked internally before you ever talk to potential vendors. Here is a list of questions you should ask yourself before deciding to embark on selecting a new system.
What business objectives and priorities are you hoping to achieve today and into the future?
The first step in any potential change is to determine what outcome you are trying to achieve. What are the organization’s goals and objectives and how does your department support those? Too many times people start with the solution and work backwards into what it can accomplish.
Have you clearly identified your needs and system requirements?
The next step in the process is to determine the specific needs that will help achieve the goals and objectives identified. What processes does the system need to support? Does the system need to integrate with other systems? What are the required outputs?
What are the main drivers for switching systems?
It’s easy to get excited by the cool bells and whistles that other vendors may offer. However, the motivation for change has to be driven by your priorities and objectives. Are there gaps in what your system is doing today versus what you are trying to achieve?
Have you tried to address the shortfalls with your current vendor?
Needs change over time and your system must continue to evolve to meet these needs. This doesn’t necessarily mean new features but utilizing existing capabilities in the system that may not have been a priority when you first implemented the system. Have you asked your current vendor what capabilities are similar organizations utilizing that you are currently not?
Does your organization have the bandwidth and resources to switch systems?
This may be the most important question you ask. Even if everything else points to change, you and your organization must be able to fully commit to the process. It takes significant investment in time, money and people to successfully switch systems.
Only after you have answered these questions can you make an informed decision on how to proceed. You must look internally at what you are trying to achieve before looking externally at what systems are available. The good news is the answers to these questions will help form the basis for whatever direction you decide to go.