When it comes to selecting a cloud-based platform for your business process management, skydiving blindly with your eyes closed to choose the first cloud you find may not be the best method.
When you are a Small/Medium Enterprise (SME), implementing or changing business software is a big jump and of course, it is important to do your research. The sky is full of many cloud providers and each cloud infrastructure comes in numerous shapes and sizes, offering a plethora of services. In spite of this, it is not about what a platform can offer, but how it solves your business needs.
As your cloud provider will most likely be your partner / supplier for a number of years, an often overlooked aspect for selecting the right cloud is the ‘organisational fit.’ See it as a long-term relationship; meet some of the key staff that you will be working with and see if you get along with them. Are they providing you with a service, or just another sale?
Be thorough and do your “due diligence” when choosing your provider, otherwise selecting the wrong cloud may rain down on you. At Nucleus Logic, we assist you by asking five questions required to find the gaps in your business process management:
- What current business processes are letting you down?
- How does it do this?
- What would you like to happen?
- How do you see staff using this solution?
- How will this benefit your business?
1. Can the software keep up with your business growth needs?
Whether you have a small or medium enterprise, when it eventually grows, you need to have the confidence that your cloud-based platform will grow with you. Is your provider’s cloud hurriedly launched, or carefully built with foundations for any future developments? Whether you add new staff or resources, or your customer base increases, you should look for a software solution with a forward-vision, that will support growing business needs.
2. Is your software up-to-date?
Is your cloud designed just for the needs of today, or also for the needs of tomorrow? A quick-fix cloud-based solution for your business may not be the best option if you’re planning for growth and to keep up with change. Cloud providers committed to an industry that is still evolving should update their software regularly to be in line with competitors and the industry, as well as not just following, but leading trends.
3. Is the operations management software flexible?
Are you looking for the minimal software solution that will accommodate your business requirements? Or will you require additional systems down the track? Perhaps an “all in one” solution may be in order to provide a holistic view of every part of your business.
4. Can the software be tailored to fit the business process management?
We all know that one size does not fit all. Every business is different and has their own needs and demands, so it is important to find a provider that has the flexibility for a plug-and-play configuration. A platform that looks and feels that it was designed for your business will always feel more personal and welcoming.
5. Do operations begin when you’re ready to begin?
Make sure that the software you choose is productive from day one. How will it be installed and set up without interruption to the business? Or is it already a self-sufficient system, requiring no new hardware, costly servers or networks? Many business process systems seem impressive from the outside looking in, but once you have to use them, it’s easy to get lost and confused. Avoid being trapped into paying for software that doesn’t do their job independently from day one, due to poor planning.
6. Subscription or one-time purchase for your supply chain software?
Whilst a one-time purchase means that you may only need to pay once, a subscription-based software gives you the flexibility to move up or down on plans, depending on your needs. You can base your bill on the traffic, support hours and storage space you require. Subscription also allows the provider to continue to improve the software and maintain relationships with sustained customer service. Look carefully when it comes to subscription on a six-month or annual basis as the effects of vendor lock-in may bring the same disadvantages that a one-time purchase may offer.
7. Security, without the padlocks
It may be worrying to some when you hand over important data to another company, however cloud providers’ reputation is on the line when it comes to protecting their clients’ data, so it is in their interest to prioritise securing cloud infrastructure. While normal authentication techniques such as user names and passwords can be used, other techniques, such as authorization can also be used – whether users can only access data relevant to their job. Another method to protect privacy may be whether users can access the data from any location, or only within the work premises. Ensure you check whether a provider takes these steps to protect your data.
8. Where is your data stored?
Is your provider local or remote? Whether in Australia or not, different privacy and security laws apply regarding who has access to your data. The location of the provider will also affect how fast or reliable a service is to you. Similarly, local providers will mean you can get immediate support when you need it.
9. Do you know the people you’re dealing with?
Is the provider’s staff sufficiently skilled to be responsible for your data, and do they offer quality technical solutions and support to your needs? They may have a great system, but also need to know how to handle it. Is support included with the price of the software, or will you have to pay extra? Do they speak in your language – that is – can they communicate solutions without alienating through jargon?
10. Are references available?
Can you speak to your provider’s current client base about their experiences with the software you are considering? Look for a cloud provider with a proven track record, so you have confidence that you are in safe hands.
Take your time and choose wisely when it comes to finding the right cloud. The software should be about building solutions for you, so the first step is to understanding what you want. Secondly, the provider must be focused on helping you get the results you seek. Be careful when they promise you the world; it’s not about what you have, but what you need. Having a document with agreed deliverables will ensure that both parties understand the objectives.
Without the right direction, your future vision will be foggy.
So contact Nucleus Logic today for blue skies ahead!