So you are busy focusing in your daily business. As an SME owner, you are surrounded by daily sales, keeping healthy cash flow, hiring and retention of staffs and more… So you felt lost. Then you invited vendors to visit you and share your problems with them. Like it or not, not many vendors are interested to hear your problems out. They are only interested to count the number of users, seats and licenses so they can maximize their revenue from offering you. The path to seek for software innovations may not be necessary as easy as it seem.

However, this is not in the end of the world. There are many ways you could attempt to solve these issues. We had compiled the top ten tips for you so you could avoid at maximum and qualify who is the truly sincere and helpful vendor:

  1. CRM selection – Always workout what you want to see from a dashboard. Do not waste time looking into demo and function up-sell yet. Indicate to your vendor the data you want to capture and have them show you a live dashboard as you are buying an intelligent database collection system not all its function will be used.
  2. E-Commerce selection – This is one of our all time favorite question. Ask your vendor the differences between shopping cart and E-Commerce. You will be surprised that at least 80% of the vendors in the market does not know the differences. E-Commerce handles more than a simple payment gateway integration. It handles supplier records, inventory, sales consolidations, cost VS sales and various configurable dashboard. But a typical shopping cart is supposed to be as good as placing item, description and image and a payment gateway with email notification of purchase invoice.
  3. Bar-code or RFID system question – Firstly, if the RFID tag cost is taking more than 2% of your item sales price, you could safely dis-regard. If your plan is to trace stock movement and its visibility. The first thing is to map out your inventory operation as being bar-coding or RFID system, the inventory has to adopt a disciplined stock in and stock out process and most importantly for the system to work… you need to define fixed location and max quantity to be stacked in that location. If not, you are not ready for either one.
  4. ERP system selection is always the biggest problems most SME owners faced. They are expensive, takes a long time to implement and train. And believe it or not. Less than 30% of the customers who adopted ERP are happy. The reason is, the user roles and responsibilities, the facilitation and workflow needs to be defined and studies before going into price conversation. Any vendor who started from the pricing conversation you should simply just walkaway. If you are not too ready to handle the better conversation, find a management consultant to assist you with the process.
  5. Digital Marketing traps – There are many vendors or freelancers that offers SEO or SEM proposal. Promising on first page ranking via google etc. Any vendor whom started a conversation from here should be avoided. As they clearly did not explain the strategies behind how they will achieve the first page and how relevant is the first page to you. The first step behind any digital marketing activity should be asking your vendor to show you concrete evidence and explanations why your website does not crawl enough traffic and reach to the target content you wanted to and provide a report to you. This report is the most expensive investment in the entire digital marketing but it is a prove of their skills. Sad to say, not a skill where freelancers will have or bother to go further for you with the least income they are getting. The choice to go with google ad-words and analytic certified personnel is a must by our recommendation.
  6. Building a mobile application. If you are new to this topic and hadn’t any mobile application for your business before. You will need to consider firstly, if your ready application will attract users to download and install your mobile application in their smart phone. And whether you plan to go for member retention strategy, transaction type, push down advertising notifications etc. The vendor should be able to advise you the business process then to how they plan to design the application for you. Sending you templates to pick is a clear No No vendor. What you are looking for is not just a mobile development services, you need a user experience (UX) expert.
  7. Crowd funding and multi-level marketing system is no secret to many. it sounds like a great idea to run your own funding campaign. But considering the enterprise and the heavy IT administration behind the support of this daily growing and heavy system. Security will be a heavy consideration since plenty of transactions were involved in it. The main idea is to expect the vendor to be able to provide you website security and prevention against DDOS, SQL Injections, payment gateway secured transport etc.
  8. Website. The most important and critical presence you at least need to have in today’s digital world. Pretty similar to building a mobile application. The UX portion needs to be address carefully. Designing content and the workflow of your objective from the user experience will be the top demand. Same thing, if a vendor only recommends you to choose the template and not explaining how the content flow should be you should walk away from their offer. Don’t be blown away with impressive designs and effects. The best webpage is simple to navigate and straight to the point and not fanciful.
  9. Business Process Management – rarely known to SME that there is a better way to handle approval across leaves, purchase, selling, expense and many others. Notification through email can be achieved. There are several approach towards this kind of solutions but the user access and workflow needs to be define first. Price talk come last. Provide a sample form and ask for a demonstration live to impress you how it works. If this is not achievable or the vendor refused to support your request. They are not ready or have not done similar development before and are only interested to clinch a deal with you and tend to most likely delay the deliverable to you.
  10. Hosting and cloud computing – if you are a SME with growing data every year. You might want to consider the cost of keeping data in your premise or build an archive in the cloud. AWS and GCP were the best choices in the market today. However, a good vendor will be a good consultant to help you build an investment list and strategies how to categorize and manage your data and user access. If the vendor is not able to work out an investment table and data handling strategies for you, they are not the right one to go with. You could approach a management consultant with cloud computing knowledge to assist you.

If the above tips are simply too technical for you. We are happy to assist you so feel free to contact us. Or search for a consultant that has the capability to assist you better.