By Michael Halprin, HBird Technologies, Inc.
There are many sources for hardware and software. The tendency is to get out there and start looking at hardware, DO NOT.
While hardware is a consideration, it is the software that will ultimately perform your particular task. But even before considering software, know your system requirements.
Your information system is a means to the end of accomplishing the tasks of your company. It should neither dictate those tasks nor impair your ability to accomplish them.
Determine System Requirements
Look at your operation and see WHAT is currently being done, HOW it is accomplished, and then estimate probable FUTURE NEEDS.
Your requirements come from a variety of sources. Some you have control over, and some, such as customer driven requirements, you do not.
Know your business processes. If change is desired, do NOT purchase a software package to impose those changes. Make your operational changes first and then look for software.
Armed with a good definition of what is to be accomplished, start looking at software packages.
Off-the-shelf packages are usually the most economic way to purchase software. If you can find a package which fits all of your requirements, select it. Otherwise, look at packages which are close fits and ask:
Additional Software Considerations
- Can it be modified, by whom and at what cost?
- Are the deficiencies small enough to live with?
The demo probably went pretty smoothly. Ask how to fix operational problems or deal with special circumstances. For instance, is it easy to correct errors if something is entered incorrectly?
Requirements change. Even if you do not currently need modifications, can they be made, by whom and at what cost?
- Is the system scalable? That is, can it grow with your company?
- Is the system auditable? Does it contain checks and balances?
- Is the system integrated to eliminate redundant entries?
- Do you have multiple locations which require access to the system?
- Is the package made up of products from multiple vendors? This may make future upgrades more difficult, since all packages will have to be upgraded together.
- Who will support the package and what is their commitment to it?
- Do you feel that the package provider has an understanding of your requirements and how their system addresses them?
If you have done your homework and found a software package, it will usually dictate the hardware requirements. Here you must rely on the software provider for guidance.
You must budget enough to purchase the proper solution. This includes adequate software and modifications, hardware and operational dollars. However, the real investment is in the day-to-day operation and your accumulated data.
There is no perfect system, but there are some good systems and conscientious providers. Trade-offs will have to be made. Know your requirements, ask questions and you will find a system which fits your needs.
For More Information Contact:
HBird Technologies, Inc.