Will the solution manage supplier approval management and product specifications?
If not, then you must ensure that if you are sourcing one system you will never need the other.
Running two systems is likely to increase workloads, frustrate suppliers and be more expensive in the long run.
Is the solution multilingual?
Some suppliers around the world may not be fluent in English or have trouble translating your requirements from English. Take a longer term view by selecting a solution which can support languages required not only today but also in the future.
Which other businesses are using the solution?
Is the solution tried and tested? To find out, speak to existing users about their experience. Where possible try to work around the ‘reference sites’ that solution vendors push you towards. Alternatively make sure that the supplier has a long list of reference sites to choose from.
How are your suppliers supported?
You are choosing the solution but it’s your suppliers who will be required to use it. Success is reliant on how well your suppliers are supported – so make sure that your suppliers do not have to pay for that support
International suppliers have free phone access to support teams and have multiple ways of engaging with them.
Ease of use?
Test drive the system in a live environment and talk with others who have used the systems.
Select internal staff who do not like working with computers and use them as guinea pigs to gather immediate feedback.
If the solution is not user-friendly, suppliers will refuse to use it.
What enhancements and improvements are being planned?
The world does not stand still so your requirements are likely to change. Find out from your preferred supplier how often they have upgraded the system in recent years. What upgrades have there been and what, if any, future upgrades are planned?
Watch for aspirational upgrade plans. If the solution provider has not upgraded the solution frequently can you believe the salesman who is talking about exciting future upgrades?
Will it interface with your customers systems?
Good software solutions will revolutionise your supplier approval management and specifications management.
Nirvana is closer than you think but don’t fall at the final hurdle by possessing high quality information which then has to be manually re-entered into your customers systems.
If your preferred solution provider does not currently interface with your customers’ systems, ask when they will interface.
Can it interface with your internal systems if required?
Where will the future take your supplier compliance management systems?
If your crystal ball is not clear and there is uncertainty about where your business IT systems are going, it is worth asking your preferred solution provider how they can interface with your internal IT systems. This leads neatly to the next question:
Does the provider have software development capability in-house or are they running the risk of outsourcing their development?
Outsourcing software development is difficult and risky. If your preferred provider is outsourcing software development then you need to question:
Their commitment. Are they involved in other activities which may result in a lack of focus?
How they manage the risk of supplier problems
How quality control is managed
Who owns the intellectual property in the solution you are choosing
What happens if there is a break-down in their supplier relationship