to Get the System You Need...And Want
finally made the big decision...you're going to get a new
system. Of course, you have some idea of what you need and
probably what you want, but will you have to settle for less?
management has grown into a 65 billion dollar industry, controlled
by less than 60 large companies internationally. Yet most
of these are betting their futures on software technology
which is completely obsolete.
make the same mistake. Whether you are seeking a system for
a three-truck residential hauling business or a large multi-service
company, the steps to finding one are basically the same.
you have unlimited time and dollars to spend on your new system,
do not consider building it from the ground up on your own.
The software which is currently on the market took years to
build and perfect, and the right vendor will provide customizing
services in most instances.
you choose two or twelve people to serve, you should form
a committee to consider the available options and select the
new system. The personnel who serve on your committee must
represent the functional areas of your organization. They
should also have a fair knowledge of Information Technology
personnel are less than proficient in technological matters,
hire an outside consultant. It is best if you find an individual
who is open-minded and independent, without a predisposition
for a given manufacturer's hardware, operating system or application
you choose should have a broad background in business application
software in general. And, in a perfect world, he or she will
also have knowledge of the waste industry in particular. If
not, your people should be able to bring the consultant up
to speed about how the industry works.
feel that the consultant is knowledgeable about IT industry
issues as well, such as language environments, operating systems,
databases, etc. You want them to guide you toward solutions
that are here for the long haul and will be able to respond
to the dynamics of change and evolution so prevalent in our
credentials. The customer should have been involved in this
whole system determination-installation process many times.
Ask for references and call them. And beware if the consultant
appears to be predisposed to a given manufacturer's hardware
or software. You are paying this person to be open-minded
most important step in this whole process is defining your
needs. If you don't know what you're looking for, you probably
won't find it.
each area of the business that will be affected by the new
system, and determine the requirements for each. You may want
to confer with people from each area to do this. Have them
also identify what currently works and what doesn't.
Define unique business rules for each area. For instance,
if you provide roll-off services, your pricing rules and metholodologies
may be extremely important to maintain your competitive edge;
define and provide examples with which to test them. Or perhaps
your operations include hauling and disposal of medical waste;
detail the handling and tracking procedures and make sure
they will be covered by the new software.
specific interfaces such as scales, container tags, etc.;
and integration needs such as on-board scales/computers that
must be handled.
are looking for a system that will operate throughout your
company or even throughout your global locations, then you
will need to address network and communications infrastructures
security, inquiry, internal and external auditing and reporting
requirements. Identify the number of users the system must
support, and your volumes, such as number of customers, number
of invoices, number of tickets, number of trucks, etc.
a time line with milestones to guide your evaluation process
and keep you on track. If your organization is large, project
tracking software would be ideal for this.
must find companies to consider. Check with industry friends
on what they are using. Review trade magazines and buyer guides/directories.
Many of the trade magazines publish articles that review and
list companies who author software. If you have access to
the Internet, you might be able to find such lists online.
as many companies as you can, and have in front of you the
information you prepared in the previous section. You will
probably be able to tell within minutes whether a company
has a system which might be a good match for you. Narrow the
search to the best three or four companies; this is your short
of these companies, you will need to see a demonstration of
the software. Try to get a live demo that gives you the chance
to manipulate the system, get your hands on it, so to speak.
If there are several separate components to any given system,
make sure the interface between components works smoothly
and the data flows without loss of detail.
than one company appears to have a product you could use,
request a formal proposal from each company, detailing the
items to be covered. Besides hardware and software specifications,
the companies should provide you with information about data
conversion, the installation process, training and support.
decision must be driven by the priorities you established
at the beginning of this process. Compare the proposals to
the priorities and try to answer the following questions:
proposed system allow you to model your operations and business?
vendor have the ability to convert all the data you want incorporated
into the new software? If not, how will the vendor make provision
for such a conversion?
vendor have the ability to meet your time line for implementation?
investment requirement in line with the proposed system when
compared with the other finalist companies?
feel comfortable forming a long term strategic partnership
with the vendor and its personnel?
you must have a strong information system to be competitive
today. Do your homework, follow the steps listed above, and
make sure the vendor you select is someone you want as a partner.
If you select and implement the correct system, it will boost
productivity and efficiency across your organization, thus
improving your bottom line.