1. Your Budget
How much money do you want to spend on the software? Ideally, you should conduct a cost-benefit assessment. Analyse what you really want to get out of steel management software and ask yourself, do the long-term benefits of such software reflect or outweigh the initial investment? Buying steel management software is a long-term decision and switching costs could be significant. Select software that is widely used, good value in terms of cost and functionality, and flexible enough to meet your business’s current and future needs.
Your new steel management software will need to work with as many of your current (and future) software and hardware products as possible. Does the software need to integrate with your production machinery? Will you be using consoles or bar coding on your shop floor? What about the workflow with your existing front office systems? Does the software use reliable technology platforms and will it integrate with your existing infrastructure?
Time is money so when you’ve made your choice, the quicker you can get your new software in place, the better. Try to select a steel management software vendor with local representation if possible, or that can offer fast and efficient implementation online for maximum early benefits. Make sure that apart from the implementation of the software, you are given the opportunity for appropriate training. Is it important to you where your training takes place? Are there implementation documents or videos available and does the company have experienced trainers knowledgeable in your industry?
What functionality do you need from the steel management software? What would you like the software to do for you? Draw up a list of desirables and see which software can fulfil them. Perhaps supplier analysis is important to you in your materials purchasing? Is revision management something you need to consider? What production control functionality is offered? Is integration with CNC machinery important? Check out what’s on the market and see what each piece of software does – there may be features available that you didn’t know existed. It is also useful to evaluate the ease-of-use of the software. Does the software supplier offer demonstrations or a trial period?
5. Return on investment
Your steel management software should not only provide maximum value-for-money but also be capable of providing you with immediate and rapid return on investment. Will you see visible savings from reduced time, materials savings or processing efficiencies from the outset? Determine how you will measure the success of the software and ensure that you monitor this regularly.
Will your steel management software package include technical support? How will the vendor provide this support (e.g. telephone, e-mails, extranet, dedicated helpdesk)? Work out what times of day you are likely to need support. It can be difficult to guess how much technical support you will need but one thing’s for sure, you will need some help initially and will want to be reassured by the level of support offered by your chosen vendor.
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