Spend Matters welcomes this guest article by Jeffrey Jones, account manager at with CobbleStone Systems Corporation.
The thought of an enterprise-wide software deployment is alluring for both sides of the deal. You have the opportunity to employ a transformative and efficient change in the organization. The sales representative has the opportunity to gain recognition from his or her employer and a likely large commission check. Enterprise-wide appears to be a winning strategy from the outset – a silver bullet. Some organizations are able to pull it off without a hitch. Unfortunately, just as many organizations find this strategy ending in gridlock.
Many organizations begin their software search with an individual or department. A search for contract management software, for example, may begin in the procurement or legal department. Initial meetings and demonstrations are successful. You love the product and decide to share it with other members of your organization – sometimes at the urging of an eager sales representative. It is at this point where things become complicated. The implementation is stretched longer, the requirements list grows exponentially, and – frankly – it feels like the software you have chosen won’t be put in place for another 10 years. All the while the inefficiencies you are trying to rectify with the software go on unaddressed. Try taking another approach: Your organization may benefit from simply purchasing the software for the initial department(s) to ensure that the software truly fits your organization’s needs.
This “enterprise-wise” strategy will ensure that your team has the opportunity to achieve efficiencies on the department-level that can be more easily scaled across the entire enterprise. There will inevitable be hiccups and kinks that have to be ironed out internally. It is best to get those worked out with a small group of users as opposed to the entire organization with its many stakeholders and priorities. After a period of time, stakeholders can evaluate the solution and determine whether the solution satisfies its purpose on the department level, or if its benefits can be easily scaled across the entire enterprise. After all, every department works differently. You may have found a great fit for procurement, but legal may require 6 months to evaluate that the product meets their departmental needs.
Take an internal case-study approach where the department using the software is able to communicate the benefits learned over a period of time to other departments in the organization. Hearing these benefits from a team member, as opposed to a salesperson, will give the organization insight into true day-to-day usage better than any other reference could. The outcome of your internal investigation may surprise you and prevent serious missteps that could have stopped a hasty enterprise wide rollout in its tracks.