1. You shouldn’t trust a sales consultant for a software company to sell you the software that best fits your business. This is so obvious it’s often overlooked, and it’s not a slam against sales people—most sales people are basically honest, but their job is to sell you their particular software package, not to sell you the best software package for your business. They work for their company, not yours. One thing you’ll never hear from a salesperson is “my software is pretty darn good, but our competitor’s software is a much better fit, so you should buy that instead”. An experienced CIO Advisor works for you, and can spot the subtle differences between systems that separate an easy from a difficult (AKA expensive) implementation.
2. Researching, evaluating, and working though a software installation takes a lot of time to ‘do it right’, and in this economy no one who owns a small or medium sized business (SMB) has highly paid, talented employees just sitting around waiting for something to do. With a CIO Advisor, you only pay for what you need, so in the long run it’s much more cost effective than using internal resources. If you go the internal route you have two choices—stretching existing resources too thinly, which can be disastrous, or hiring up, which will be expensive.
3. You get a fresh, unbiased look at your situation. Sure, maybe you could use an internal IT resource who’s familiar with how you do things, but let’s face it--If how you are currently doing things is so great, then why bother to change? Bringing in someone from the outside removes politics, past baggage, and a ‘this is how we’ve always done it’ attitude from the equation, and replaces it with a fresh look at your processes.
4. A CIO Advisor gets their next role by doing a good job in the current role—good references are a consultant’s currency, so your success equals his or her success. Sure, you might hire a ‘not so good’ consultant, but you also might hire a poor employee, and a consultant is a whole lot easier to switch out than an employee—think unemployment insurance, severance, and discrimination or unlawful termination lawsuits.
5. An experienced CIO Advisor often pays for him or herself, independent of contributing to a successful software implementation.Experience teaches many things, including how not to make the same mistake twice. That BI tool the software company is pushing—buy it later if you need it at all. Maybe Excel pivot tables will work just fine. Thinking of pulling the trigger and it’s June 1? Ask what the quarter end or maybe fiscal year end incentives are. They usually aren’t offered until June 15th and sometimes only if they are necessary.
6. A CIO Advisor increases the chances dramatically of a successful software implementation. The major software types (ERP, CRM, WMS, CMS, etc.) are generally the same, with the differences more in the details. For instance, an ERP system made expressly for an engineer-to-order, one off, custom manufacturer is 95% the same as a mainstream ERP system like Microsoft’s Dynamics GP, but they aren’t interchangeable. Think of it like dog breeds. A Pug and a Mastiff are about 99% the same genetically, but you don’t want a Mastiff sitting on your lap, and a Pug won’t scare away burglars as effectively. An experienced CIO Advisor knows this, and will focus on the differences rather than the bells and whistles…….and will know what those differences tell you about the underlying architecture and user functionality. For instance, if the salesperson tells you that their ERP system tracks purchasing demand at a specific subassembly (set) level rather than in aggregate, then there must be a field in a BOM that links to a purchasing table.
This article was originally displayed on CrowHillAssociates.com and has been written by our own CIO Advisory Consultant, Jay Shenk. A CIO Advisor can help you in many different areas of your IT function-- for more information or an inital meeting contact us if you are interested in learning about our CIO Advisory services.