Part 2 of 3: Know what you’re Getting Into…Selecting a New Business System is Like Building a House
Imagine that you have been dreaming about a new house. You may have spent hours thinking, talking, and planning the logistics; such as where you want to build, what school district or city you want to build it in, what view you want the house to have, and how large a lot you want, but, so far, you haven’t talked about what the house will look like. You may have to decide if the design of the house or the lot is more important. Let’s assume the lot is more important. You really can’t decide on the style of the house until you have the lot. You need to understand its elevation, where the view will be and what may block the view. You can make general assumptions about the number of rooms, the size and other generic designs, but until you settle on a lot, you can’t finalize these decisions. Once you have settled on the lot, you can make all the specific decisions about design, dimensions, view, and size, and so on. All this and you still have no specific plans.
So far, it is all conceptual – now it is time to go to the architect and begin to take the concept from talk to the drawing board. You haven’t purchased materials. You may not have selected a contractor or placed a hold on the lot. At this point you are still in the design phase. As the architect sketches the concept, he will incorporate the outside influences like the local building codes, the weather, zoning ordinances, the covenants for the building style; not to mention your personal needs, wants, desires, family conditions, likes, dislikes, etc.
Finally, you are ready to start building! But, hold on a minute! Now is the time to visit with several contractors, get references, visit other homes the contractor has built, get a quote for the building, arrange financing, determine if your dream fits your budget and make a decision. Now you are ready to build.
Wait another minute. You still have to get permits, sign contracts, make deposits and choose specific materials within the scope of your contract. Now you are finally ready to begin building. You may have spent three, six, nine months or more without turning over a shovel full of dirt. The reality of building a house is that the more time you spend before you start construction, the quicker the construction can progress and, quite often, at a lower cost because you won’t be making changes on the fly. You have spent the time to determine up front what you can afford, what you want, how you want it to look, and, perhaps most importantly, who is going to build it. The reality of construction is that whoever builds your home largely determines how happy you will be with the finished project. That is why you check references and do site visits. You want to know if the experience was positive or negative for others who used this builder. Does the builder really care about the finished product? Is the builder easy to work with? Is he or she professional in business matters, prompt and reliable?
Even with all your planning, there will be changes. You will see things differently, or you may have a change in circumstances that causes a change in need. These things will most likely change the duration and cost of the project, but, because you have planned carefully, you will have fewer unforeseen events along the way. During the building process, there will be periods when there will be significant demands on your time. You will have to make some choices, discuss some issues, make some visits to the building site and so on.
However, it’s all worth it because this is your dream house, and you plan to live in it for a long time.
I purposely described this process of planning to build a house in a disjointed manner, because, many times, that is the way it occurs for the companies we come to work with. Until we help them, they really don’t have a procedure in place that facilitates decisions for selecting a business system. With that in mind, we need to look at two critical areas that frequently get left to the end of the process, but should be considered at the beginning. Continuing to use a house as a metaphor for a new business system…
- An important consideration in this discussion is the political and emotional dynamics of your family and it is equally important in discussing your business system. The house is for your family; therefore, they are the most important element in the process. Each person in your family has his or her own goals, objectives, likes, dislikes, wants, needs and desires. Each person will try to influence the project to get his or her own views considered. Some of these will be contradictory to others. You have to determine a method to resolve these conflicts and concerns in a way that each person feels that their voice was heard. You have to make sure the result is the best for all, even though everyone may not get exactly what he or she wanted. Your business system is no different. You will experience differences of opinions and emotion, but, your decision must be for the betterment of your entire business, not just certain departments.
- The most critical issue in this whole process is determining how committed you are to building a new house. You will be spending a lot of time, energy, emotion and money on this project. You must determine whether the reward is worth the cost and effort. This is exactly what you must do with your business system. You must decide how important your problem or opportunity is to your business. You will be investing a great many of your precious business resources if you decide to solve the problem. If you are not seriously committed, you will stop short and waste those resources.
Determining the cost of a business management software implementation and your commitment to the project isn’t a new thought, in fact, you can even find this point expressed in major religions. “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?” This is a breaking point – right at the beginning of the project. So, start it right and end it right.