Planning for a new software purchase

When looking for software to assist social services, one has to be careful on how the task is approached because the initial way the search done can dictate the success of the whole process, including events as far out as implementation and use of the software. So before beginning a search, keep the following key elements in mind.

1. Make sure that the software which is being investigated would not completely overhaul the organization’s workflows, processes and practices.

Sometimes choosing software invokes thoughts on efficiency and how to streamline some of the organization’s workflows. This is absolutely normal and a good sign that the person spearheading the software search is thinking ahead, but this person should be wary of trying to tackle too much too quickly. If the organization’s processes are not efficient enough and need to be changed drastically, then this is not the time to purchase software. Take the time to change those processes, get your employees familiar with the change and ensure they understand and accept it before you move on to purchase new enterprise management software.

2. Assemble a variety of employees from your organization into a team to provide input on the choice.

The team of individuals may include one person from each area:  IT management, end user (e.g. a caseworker), and finally, the decision maker.

Staff buy-in is critical in any change, including a software change. It is best that all areas of your organization are involved early in the process because this gives the team members a sense of ownership in the project. They will feel they have been heard early on, before the process gets to the point where it cannot be changed.

3. Understand that the process of procuring software is going to take time to perform well.

Make sure that the supervisors of anyone on the team are aware of this commitment, and that they allow for time for employees to attend and work on the project. Finding the right software is a very important task, and the person in charge should ensure that team members do not end up in a situation where they are being required to meet hard deadlines for their supervisor for other projects as well as work on this project. Make sure the supervisors of each team member are informed of how important the employee’s involvement is to the project and ensure the supervisor allows for the employee’s full participation in the process.

If you keep in mind these three critical points and put them into practice before you begin your software search, you will reap benefits down the road. You will also be on track for a successful software purchase, no matter how big or small. And through that, allow your organization to continue to provide excellent program services.

About the Author: Joe Nevshemal is the VP of Business Development at Handel Information Technologies, Inc., a custom and product-based software company. Joe has been involved in dozens of software procurement, purchasing, and implementation in the over five years at Handel. Furthermore, Joe has over 10 years of experience in design, implementation, and management of software.

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