5 Tips For Upgrading Your Retail Software Solution
Many mid-market retailers would benefit by upgrading their retail software solution, but don’t know where to start. Such a project doesn’t have to be a headache, as long as you know what you want to replace, why you want to replace it and what you’re trying to improve through this technology initiative.
While some might prefer to pass the project off to the IT department or a vendor, doing so skips valuable steps in the process, which starts with understanding your current technology issues and identifying goals. Following these five tips helps ensure a smooth, productive upgrade to your retail software solution.
Identify your business needs: A great place to start is by identifying what data your company is currently tracking in spreadsheets. Spreadsheet use generally indicates problem areas in your retail software solution, because people are trying to work around the problems with less than ideal tools. (Spreadsheets create isolated data silos, and the information in them is inaccessible or invisible to the rest of the company.) When you make a list of what you’re tracking in Excel spreadsheets, it helps with identifying areas where an upgraded software solution would offer needed transparency, such as planning, business intelligence and customer segmentation.
- Plan to change in stages, instead of one fell swoop: Successful technology initiatives require methodical planning and gradual change. Trying to replace all of your existing retail sales software tools at once is asking for trouble. Instead, plan your implementation in segments — finance, inventory management, payroll, human resources and so on — and then move one function at a time into the new system. Give your company time to change, and plan out these incremental changes in a strategic order, based on your business needs.
- Work with your vendor on strategy: Don’t expect to simply hand off your technology challenges to your software vendor. Working together on a plan makes much more sense. You know your business better than anyone, and your vendor knows the technology. Your vendor should be able to ask some very direct questions to help craft your implementation plan.
- Cultivate internal power users in IT and business departments: Upgrading software can’t be considered as merely an IT project; it’s important to have businesspeople as active team players and sponsors. Successful implementations depend on user adoption and buy-in from the larger organization. That’s why it’s so important to cultivate “power users” from across the company who understand how the software works as well as the goals of the implementation, so that they work internally to ensure buy-in from others. Without these internal champions, the chances of a successful implementation rapidly diminish. If you only have the vendor or an IT leader pushing the new retail software solution, people who are reluctant to change often gripe about projects and undermine them.
- Use this opportunity for a data “spring cleaning”: Ideally, companies should clean up their data on a regular schedule, but a software upgrade presents a great time for cleaning up data, reviewing your processes and reporting. The old expression holds: Garbage in, garbage out. If the data you’re transferring from your old retail sales software is bad, the new system is also going to have bad data. So, it’s often a good time to delete duplicate customer data, for example, and purge or condense old business information. You might not need detailed information from the past 15 or 20 years of business activity; your system might be more effective when working with summary data for old business.
If you follow these five tips, upgrading your retail software solution shouldn’t feel like an overwhelming project. It’s like building a house. You need to lay the foundation properly before you start building the structure.
Are you read to jump in? Contact ArcherPoint today to learn more about improving your retail software solution.