Buying software can be like starting a relationship. You may have been disappointed in the past and want to make sure it works this time. Therefore, you want to get to know each other and split up without any drama should it not work.
Buying software using the traditional licensing model, however, is a long-term commitment which you may not be ready for quite yet. A cloud-based solution is much more flexible but you should still cover your bases and make sure of a few things.
In this blog entry, I will list six important things you should check out before committing to a cash forecasting solution.
Ensure that the cash forecasting application supports your key processes. Make a list of the key features you need and prioritize them. This way you can have a requirements specification that you can use to score different solutions.
There are some features that are must-haves in all cash forecasting solutions and there is little point in listing and scoring them. These include multiple currency support, automatic forecast consolidation, day/week/month view, etc.
Instead, concentrate on listing features that have a major impact on the quality of cash forecasting and that may not be found in all solutions. Typically these are:
You should be somewhat skeptical about the superlatives the vendor spits out. What really matters is that the solution has an existing user base.
If users endorse the solution and are willing to put their picture besides the quotes, it is quite likely they are actual real-life satisfied users.
Even though the solution has all the key features and it has satisfied users, you want to be able to test drive it.
When you start your test deployment, pay attention whether the deployment process has been planned well. The solution should guide you through the deployment steps logically and in the correct order.
During the actual trial period, make sure all the features you listed actually exists and are easy to use. The easier to use the solution is, the less resistance you’ll face during the company-wide deployment.
Remember to check that the required integrations are easy to create.
It is sometimes difficult to see the full price of the solution. Especially when dealing with the traditional licensing model, the price consists of several components. You may pay separately for the application, maintenance, updates, and consulting. Some vendors even charge you every time you call their help desk.
If the application is installed on your own servers, there are a variety of internal costs. These include hosting-related hardware and software costs and maintenance-related personnel costs.
You should only pay a fixed monthly fee that includes all.
Cloud-based pricing is much more simple. You should only pay a fixed monthly fee that includes the usage of the solution, support services, help desk, and version updates. Additionally, you should be able to purchase a fixed-price deployment consulting package.
During the trial period you get a good idea how well the deployment support is handled. Make also sure that day-to-day support is on an adequate level.
The vendor should have a help desk to support the users either via email or telephone. Make also sure the help desk does not incur extra costs. Sometimes traditional software houses may charge extra for support even though they are nominally offering a cloud service.
You should also find out how the vendor handles issues and how and how often customers are informed if hiccups occur.
No matter how well you do your homework, you may still occasionally find out that your choice was not a good one. Your vendor may be investing more in winning new clients than keeping old ones. Or the vendor may be sold to an IT giant that creates extra bureaucracy and lowers the level of service.
Do not accept more than one month’s termination period. This ensures you can end the relationship quickly when necessary.
If you take these six things into account, you can safely rush into a relationship with a new cash forecasting solution. Choosing a modern cloud-based solution is a bit like having a strong pre-nuptial agreement that ensures you won’t be cleaned out should the relationship not work.