Investment in outstanding software will make it easier to run your business, encourage user adoption and increase the productivity of your team. Your executive search software should help you progress potential candidates to placed or qualified out in the fastest possible time, improving efficiency. However, choosing the wrong software can be a source of frustration and expense.
Software that is difficult to use will act as a barrier to adoption, resulting in poor data, reduced productivity and money to recover. When choosing a provider, it’s important to consider what will work for your business, without breaking the bank. There are products available which come in a myriad of configurations and technologies, but before you invest in new software here are 10 things you should consider to ensure you choose the right tools for your business.
1. Identify your needs. What are your reasons for shopping for new software? Make a list of the challenges you’d like the software to address and separate it into two categories; needs and wants.
a. Your needs list should be brief and consist only of the features absolutely necessary for the software to work for your company.
b. Your wants list can be much broader and features should be listed in order of importance, encompassing all the capabilities that will make life easier.
2. Determine your budget. Calculate how much you can afford to spend, including any new hardware needed, as well as first-year implementation and any additional support fees. To get the best product for your needs, select the right software that will do the job then select the hardware that the software that will run on. The cost of software is important, but it is equally crucial to know your hardware and recurring costs. You will have far reduced hardware costs if you choose a cloud-based system where the software is hosted for you meaning you don’t need your own costly server or technical support. Look at your PCs and mobile devices, is now the time to upgrade them to benefit from the most recent powerful computing power?
3. Determine the payback. What will this software give you in real terms? For instance, will it save you 20% of your consultant’s time in one year, or can it reduce your time to close assignments by 25%? Put a fiscal value on this to assess whether it is worth the investment.
4. Get referrals and identify the market leaders. Ask colleagues what systems they have used in the past and whether they would recommend them. What system do the top search firms use? What do firms similar in size to yourself use? Are many firms switching to another supplier, if so ask why?
5. Narrow the playing field to 3-4 suppliers. Once you have you list of needs and a preliminary budget, eliminate products based on a lack of features or demonstrable return on investment.
Some key things to consider include: specialisation in supporting your size or type of business, depth of product line and breadth of support for the product. Focus on companies that are clearly designing products with one eye on the future. This is evident if they are using platforms and technologies that are supported by industry leaders. Choose a platform that has a broad base of users (like SQL Server or .Net framework) so you won’t have trouble finding resources to keep it running down the road. You should also ask questions about their major software releases and how often they invest in their software. Are upgrades included in the initial cost or is there an additional charge?
6. Get input from your consultants and researchers. Those that will use the software are often your best resource in making decisions. Does processing candidates result in increased productivity? What other features would your internal users like to have? How would they save time and increase profitability? This will quickly point to any inefficiencies in your current package and alert you to the features you should look for in potential packages. Additionally, this has the added benefit of speeding internal buy-in when you do begin implementing your new software. Employees will be much more receptive to a package that improves their workflow.
7. Select your finalists. Most software companies will allow you to request a demo or download a demo version of their software. This will allow you to familiarise yourself with the interface and see how the key functions work. Look for good design and clearly marked functions. Identify how much training they recommend, if it is more than half day it indicates the product is hard for the consultants to learn. Do they offer free training or is it at an additional charge? Is it easy to figure out how to enter an assignment? Can you easily switch functions and does the software allow you flexibility in creating new records or do you have to follow a strict data entry procedure? This is a true test of which products are going to be a good fit. Does your data remain yours and can you get it back easily if you leave? Do they offer free support covering your mission critical times? You can rule out products that are under or over-qualified for your business and narrow down the 2 or 3 products that you are most comfortable with.
8. Do you need to import your data to the system and how is this done? What experience do the suppliers have in data import from your existing system and what are the costs? Do they have pre-defined templates that allow for a rapid implementation?
9. Make your final selection. Make sure that you feel comfortable with the vendor as well as the product. If the salesperson is too pushy or you feel that they are not able to provide you with the information you need, don’t be afraid to ask to speak with someone else, your salesperson should act as a technical advisor. Can they provide you with references and put you in contact with a current customer who can share their experiences? Look for minimising the risk of buying, can you get a short term 30 day rolling licence to ensure you are not tied up with 12-month commitment? Can you pay monthly and not all up-front? It is important that you feel comfortable with your decision because you will be spending money and, more importantly, time in implementing your new software. Be wary if they drop the cost significantly. Are they going to be willing to support you fully at a dramatically reduced price?
10. Establish your timeline. Plan your implementation carefully to avoid your peak busy times and to allow for system redundancy to ensure that none of your data is lost during the transition period. Don’t feel rushed to do it at the end of your financial year; schedule it for a less stressful time and let your supplier work with you to ensure a seamless transition from your old system to your new one.
I hope this has given you some guidance in what to consider when looking to invest in new software. The right software should be backed up by a company that you like and trust, that is innovative and provides regular software updates, whilst not tying you in to a rigid contract.
Invenias’ innovative software will dramatically increase your productivity and reduce time spent on administration, allowing you to close more assignments and increase the profitability of your business. We have over 800 customers with 1,000s of users, ranging from single user firms to boutique firms and global organisations.