Yesterday I had the strangest thing happen to me.  As I was driving along in bumper-to-bumper freeway traffic, my car horn started sporadically beeping!  I immediately sprang into action thinking of ways to get it to stop…or at the very least, just get it home!

This little experience got me thinking; my car is about 15 years old, the warranty has long since expired, it’s normal wear and tear, but also some important repairs.  Is this a sign of what’s yet to come?  Is it really time to start thinking about getting a new car?  Am I ready for this?  We haven’t budgeted for a new car, but then again, we haven’t budgeted for many car repairs either.  Maybe this requires a quick fix and I’ll be good to go for a while.  But what if it requires major repair, if there’s a lot of time and labor involved that will cost a fortune!  But I can’t really drive this way, can I?  Maybe if I take the side streets…

Believe it or not, if you substitute the word “software” for “car,” this is exactly the same sort of dialogue that we have had with several organizations over the years as software consultants.  It’s amazing how quick we are to resist change, especially when it involves time, money and a learning curve.  Before heading down the path to new software selection, consider if you’re ready by asking yourself:

1. What is the true cost to maintain our current software system(s)?

This includes vendor annual maintenance or subscription cost, hardware maintenance and/or replacement, internal labor cost for general administration, internal labor cost for report writing, internal labor cost for bug fixes, internal labor cost for upgrades, etc.

2. Are we taking advantage of best practices for our business processes?

Consider the number of business processes that occur outside of the system or in “shadow” systems (e.g. Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, etc.) that have an impact on organization performance and productivity.

3. What does everyone else think?

It’s good to talk to end users to find out how they feel about the system.  What is their perception of the organization and individual readiness for new software?  Is there resistance to change?  Do people generally feel like the system is handling their daily, weekly, monthly activities?  Or do they have a negative perception, maybe that the system is outdated, lacks modern functionality, etc.

Remember, this is just the beginning stage of understanding readiness for a software selection project.  It’s ok to wait on getting something new if that’s what your data is telling you.  We have found that more and more organizations are requiring upfront Readiness Assessments in order to justify their software replacement decisions.

By the way, my horn was a quick fix (thanks to my husband’s ingenuity).  Think I’ll stay the course a while longer.

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