10 Criteria Every SMB Should Use to Evaluate an “On Demand” Business Solution

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What criteria should be exercised by small and midsize businesses when selecting a business solution? When evaluating on-demand business solutions, we suggest no less than 10 criteria be examined:

1. How easy and intuitive is the user interface? Solutions based on portal technology are the best way to go. A portal offers users the ability to tailor the way they interact with the application and functionality, much like they would customize a Yahoo site to fit their specific interests.

2. How quickly and easily can the solution be implemented? Does the solution offer an accelerated implementation approach to minimize demands on your resources? Rapid implementation techniques can reduce costs by more than 50 percent.

3. How easily can the solution integrate with your supply chain, product development, and business processes? Remember, no system operates in a vacuum, and it delivers the most value when embedded in the business!

4. Can the solution easily scale as your business grows? Take into account not only number of users, but also specific roles and functions and the need to support end-to-end business processes, which are constantly changing.

5. Is the business solution available as a subscription? You can’t always anticipate the future. Keeping cash is important. On-demand business solutions must be available on a subscription basis, virtually eliminating the traditional upfront investments. The solution should offer you flexible 12, 24, or 36 month subscription options – allowing you to keep your cash working while you get the benefits of the newest business technology solutions.

6. Does the solution offer you company-wide visibility into your business processes? The right solution can help you gain a competitive advantage through increased visibility into critical business functions, superior reporting, integrated processes, and even increased customer loyalty/retention, more in-depth customer insights, and an accelerated product time to market.

7. Are there ample resources to assist you with your implementation and ongoing support? Look for business partners with both long-term business experience and support services, as well as expertise with cross functional, strategic technology and software solutions.

8. Is industry-specific expertise built into the product? The best business solutions are not plain vanilla. Each solution needs to address industry-specific needs, and support roles and functions unique to vertical markets.

9. Does it provide you with any analytics? That is, does it provide the means to analyze collected data and generate reports that help your analysts and management to better understand your customers and then turn that knowledge into action? You should be able to measure performance, predict trends, plan for business success, and make the most of customer relationships.

10. Can it operate on the Web? On-demand systems need to work across the company as well as with your business partners. Look for a business solution that has the flexibility and open access to accommodate future change in business and technology.

By NextCorp, Ltd., Microsoft Dynamics GP Partner for Texas

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