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Check out our informative articles below!

 

How to Get the System You Need...And Want

You've 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?

Waste 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.

Don't 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.

Note:Unless 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.

The Evaluation Committee

Whether 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 (IT).

If your 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 software.

The consultant 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.

You should 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 industry.

Ask for 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 and independent.

Define Your Needs

The single 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.

Identify 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.

Identify specific interfaces such as scales, container tags, etc.; and integration needs such as on-board scales/computers that must be handled.

If you 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 and standards.

Define 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.

Develop 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.

The Process Begins

Now you 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.

Talk to 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 list.

For each 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.

If more 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 Point

Your final 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:

Does the proposed system allow you to model your operations and business?

Does the 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?

Does the vendor have the ability to meet your time line for implementation?

Is the investment requirement in line with the proposed system when compared with the other finalist companies?

Do you feel comfortable forming a long term strategic partnership with the vendor and its personnel?

In summary, 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.

 


 

 

 

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