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System Evaluation Series, Part 7: The Final Approach

Over the past several months, we have been following "Dave" and his evaluation team as they reviewed business management solutions to support the growth of their specialty industrial machinery company. With about 200 employees in seven North American locations, the Microsoft-centric organization has plans for growth that include multinational expansion.

Choosing the Best-of-Breed Vertical
In Part 4, I described the evaluation team's review of a vertical solution that serves the equipment dealer and rental industry. A "best-of- breed" solution, the custom-built application uses Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Infor to deliver an end-to-end solution. The Web site and marketing approach is 100 percent focused on the dealership and rental industry vertical.

After a day-long demonstration and a proposal from the vendor, the evaluation team was interested enough to follow up with a reference account site visit. That visit, with a much larger global company in a similar but non-competitive market, went very well.

Dave described the meeting with the reference account project manager: "The project manager told us that even though it's a higher cost option, it's a lower risk option. The vendor knows the business, they understand how it works."

Implementation and the Final Decision
As Dave's company's evaluation process has progressed, one of the biggest concerns in finding the best solution is establishment of better data governance. Governance, the processes to ensure that data is accurate and complete, is the foundation of the system's value -- no matter what choice is made.

Since output of the system is only as good as the users make it, a new system must support business processes that will be readily adopted and maintained. Workarounds, and subsequent data loss, will resurface if the system is too hard to use.

That subject was a key part of the discussions with the reference account. "The whole idea of building better processes was a big part of the vendor's implementation approach," Dave noted. "They are not just implementing what you're doing today on a different software package. They spend a lot of time on your processes."

Dave added, "The ringing endorsement was that the reference company was able to come out of the recession growing at a substantial rate without adding headcount. They have seen real productivity gains." 

The evaluation team believes in this vertical solution strongly enough to place a deposit with the vendor as they complete due diligence. Between now and mid-August, the team will work to determine if the return on cost of capital justifies the investment -- for a final decision.

Lessons Learned: Align Your Message to Your Delivery
As this real-life example demonstrates, the value of the services that your implementation team delivers is what wins deals. The visit to the reference site confirmed what Dave's team had been told by the vendor sales team. No surprises, just validation.

Your company's messaging should be built on the verifiable outcomes that customers have experienced. Content that helps prospects understand the practical value of your services will be much more compelling than a generic description of your methodology. As we move to a cloud-based application world, service value becomes even more important to fully explain.

Talk to your implementation team to get their help with:

  • Case studies that focus not just on ROI but on the improvements in process.  
  • Getting specific with benefits of implementations to post on your Web site's services page. Bullet-list specific problems that your team overcame to improve productivity.
  • Content for a report or whitepaper like, "20 Process Changes that Save Companies Money."

How does your implementation team help marketing build messaging and content? Add a comment below or send me a note and let's share the knowledge.

More from This Series:

Posted by Barb Levisay on July 26, 2012