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How to choose the right sustainability software

Date posted: 16 March 2016
Posted in: Sustainability software

So, you’ve decided to look at a new software system to manage your non-financial data but not sure where to start? The sustainability, EHS, Supply Chain and Compliance software market, as you may have gathered, is huge. At last count over 100 software companies have offerings across these areas. With an overwhelming number of technical features and capabilities to help you manage your data, there is a lot to think about.

Engage with your end-users

Whilst it might seem like a daunting amount of work, it’s vital you create a detailed data map and have a clear requirements plan for your new software. Early on, it’s easy to be tempted to skip the planning and head straight to the software companies; they will impress you with all the bells and whistles they offer and are often keen to help you with ROI figures to impress the board. It’s easy to get off-track. Hold back from going to any software companies just yet and take the time to get your planning right. With one in six technology projects having an average cost over run of 200% along with a time overrun of 70% (Source: Harvard Business Review) getting this right really matters.

IAG Consulting reports that the single largest factor, accounting for 70% of project failures, is poor requirements specification. The job of any software system is to support your business processes so, take a long hard look at your business, and identify your requirements. Map out all your processes, reporting needs and the associated data. A good team will be able to fully involve and listen to all of the stakeholders. Don’t skimp on this as engaging with your end-users to identify requirements is just as important as talking to those at the top. It will take time, but with plenty of coffee and help from your colleagues, you can do it!

Future proofing your choice

A clear view of your business’s strategy for the next few years is essential if your system is to last; add to your data map any new business processes and data requirements you’ll have going forward. While you are at it, specify all the users, roles and sites you need both now and in the future. If you’ve managed that, you’ve now got a clear idea of your basic requirements. Take a break, you’ve earned it!

What do you need?

There are a whole host of features and functions to consider; data input, dashboards and reporting output, time zones, currencies, languages, conversion factors, automation, mobile access and third-party integration are just some of the features and functions you might need. Select carefully; having extra features you don’t use will add complexity and incur additional costs you don’t need.

Now that you’ve done all the leg work, you need an effective system of functional and technical validation. A good plan will include communicating the requirements back to the stakeholders to check that it really meets their requirements.

Don’t forget to include IT

Getting your IT team involved too is essential. How and where will the system be hosted? Increasingly software is cloud based, but this isn’t right for every company. What systems need to be integrated? What system will suit all your users? When it comes to choosing software, all processes (product evaluations, budgets, contracts and implementation) must pass the test of “does it meet our stated requirements?”.

So, basically everything comes back to your requirements and how well each software meets them. When putting together your weighted score card, as well as functionality and technology, don’t forget total costs, support options, supplier viability and supplier future plans. If you get all of that right and are able to carefully and objectively compare the various different options you have a great chance to deliver a successful software selection project at the first attempt!

What help is out there?

To help you, SustainIt have created GoMarketWise, an independent, free-to-use comparison website that simplifies and demystifies software selection for you. Covering Responsible Business, Environmental, Health and Safety, Risk and Compliance, and Supply Chain data management, GoMarketWise compares software options from across the market to help find the right one for your business needs. Let GoMarketWise do the hard work and compare a wide range of products within your budget. Sounds good? Let’s get started!