Need analysis FAQ


Systems Selection and Evaluation FAQ

  1. How are you different than other people calling themselves IT Consultants ?
  2. Why do I need to do a requirements analysis? 
  3. Can't I just choose a package myself ?
  4. If the system is easy to use, why do I have to spend time and money on training.
  5. Should I be looking at a generic solution, or one that was developed for my industry ?
  6. What kind of budget should I have for this project ?
  7. How can you be objective if you have strategic alliances with Vendors ?
  8. Do I need to Run parallel?
  9. Can you convert my data to the new system?
  10. I have a custom Order entry system. Can I integrate it with my new accounting system?
  11. What is the difference between entry level solutions costing a few hundred dollars, and high end systems costing serveral hundred thousand dollars ?
  12. How does your billing work?

How are you different than other people calling themselves IT Consultants ?

We are Certified Management Consultants and Chartered Accountants. Our background is mostly in the professional accounting firm environment, and have had exposure to many different industries. We follow an effective and proven methodology.  We have a background of over 20 years experience. We have a strong network of strategic alliances, and a reputation for integrity. 


Why do I need to do a requirements analysis?

Nothing is worse than spending a lot of time and money, and then finding out that the system does not do what you expected. See Methodology. Doing a good needs analysis can save you a lot of headaches down the road. Sometimes, there is also government assistance available for this purpose (depending on your region). 


Can't I just choose a package myself ?

Be careful. Most vendors will only tell you about the strengths of their programs, and not the weaknesses. Demos are designed to highlight the advantages. Another mistake that many people make is to focus on the products and technology, instead of the evaluating important functionality of the system and people who will be implementing it. This can make all the difference.


If the system is easy to use, why do I have to spend time and money on training.

This is one of the most overlooked areas, and is extremely important.  Lack of training can result in the system being setup or used improperly. This can make a big difference, and cause a lot of inefficiencies. Also, sometimes there are tax incentives from the government (ex. Quebec) which you could make use of.


Should I be looking at a generic solution, or one that was developed for my industry ?

It depends on how specialized your business is and what is available. There are advantages and disadvantages to both alternatives, which we could discuss. In general, most mature generic solutions have 3rd party add-ons for specific industries. 


How can you be objective if you have strategic alliances with Vendors?

Here is our Philosophy - No one is completely objective. If they are, then they probably don't have much experience implementing real products in real life business situations. How can they give credible recommendations? The other extreme is selling only one product, and trying to make it work for everyone. "When all you have is a hammer, then everything starts to look like a nail". We follow the "best of breed" or Toolkit approach, which is somewhere in between. We will tell you which vendors we have alliances with.  It is our job to point out the strengths and weaknesses of each solution, so that you can make an informed decision. The final decision is up to you.


What kind of budget should I have for this project ?

It really depends on a lot of factors such as requirements, size of business etc. Have a look at the market survey document to get a general idea of the different levels. Keep in mind that the cheapest alternative is not necessarily the best. You have to consider the Total cost of Ownership, which includes all the hard and soft costs over time (usually about 5-7 years). Make sure to include one-time costs as well as ongoing fees such as maintenance or monthly cloud fees. 


Do I need to Run parallel?

This is usually not a realistic option for most companies. It would require more than double the work, and the new system is often quite different than the old one. (so it is difficult to compare) That is why it is so important to do thorough testing, and use proper cut off and balancing procedures before going live on the new system. Here is a more detailed article on the subject of parallel vs. phased vs. big bang approaches.


Can you convert my data to the new system?

It depends on the circumstances. Sometimes it makes sense, and sometimes it doesn't.It also depends on the number of master file items and transaction volume. Generally, it makes sense to convert the master files, and open items. The history is much more difficult, and we usually recommend leaving it on the old system, if it will still be accessible, or printing history reports from the old system to files which can be searched if necessary. New history will be built up on the new system. 


I have a custom Order entry system. Can I integrate it with my new accounting system?

Some systems make this easier than others. We would have to evaluate the situation to see if it would be feasible. 


What is the difference between entry level solutions costing a few hundred dollars, and high end systems costing several hundred thousand dollars?

Take a look at the Market survey to get an idea of some of the differences. There are also systems designed for specific industries called vertical market solutions. It is important to chose a system that is going to meet your needs now and in the future. It is very expensive and time consuming to have to change from one system to another. 

How Does your billing work?

Software and development costs are quoted on a fixed price basis. Consulting services are estimated based on an hourly or per diem rate which depends on the type of work, and the number of hours involved. We send billing information by e-mail on a bi-monthly basis, so there are no surprises. If we feel that more time is required than we originally estimated, we will let you know and you can decide if you want to continue or not. We also accept Paypal and Bitcoin. 




 
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Fred Blauer,
Apr 7, 2010, 2:54 PM
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Fred Blauer,
Apr 15, 2010, 7:52 AM
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