This post is the final post in a series of questions you as a publisher should ask when interviewing software service providers. (View the eleventh question here.) The questions will help you find out if a product is the right fit for you business and if it is really going to do what it claims: help you save time and sell more advertisements.


How long does it take to get up and running?

The answer, of course, will be that the length of the transition depends. You won’t find a robust system that is also a turnkey system. Getting up and running depends on your requirements, involvement, and organization. If you are looking to set up the system yourself, the project will go as quickly as the time you put in and the quality of documentation provided. Check to see what setup guides are available and if you can make sense of the guides to do it yourself. Be careful if you try and do it yourself in an effort to simply reduce cost. Upfront you may not have to pay, but the cost of inefficient use of man-hours and frustration can add up quickly; your day job is not software configuration. Make sure you have a person who is savvy with the software and is up to the task.


If you want assistance from the provider, see how they structure the transition process and the plan they have in place. Does the provider have an organized timeline with milestones built in to keep the implementation on track? What support do they offer for transferring historical data over to your new system? If you want to be up and running in X number of weeks, check and see if that is reasonable, what would need to happen, and what extra setup costs would be included. Determine roles early in the process so you know who is accountable for what and know if the ball is dropped, is it in your court or theirs? You will need to have at least one in-house guru and leader of the project. If you don’t have project leads for the implementation, it can turn into a lot of pointed fingers and wasted time.


Once the system can handle your business process, what will be the plan to make sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed before you ‘go-live’? Make sure everyone from sales to accounting gives thumbs up before operations are a go. Do your current reports match up with the new ones? Can reps create the orders they have in the past? Are your clients aware they may see a different looking invoice or contract? You want everyone onboard and confident that they can do their jobs without having to worry about what buttons to press and their work will show up properly.


Almost every transition will have bumps in the road; accountability and expectations are the keys to ensure these issues don’t derail the project. Be prepared for initial frustrations and understand that growing pains are a part of becoming bigger and stronger.


POSTED BY Tom Bellen, to contact click here.