The success of a loan or lease software implementation can mean different things depending who you ask. However, there is only one metric that really counts.
By definition, a successful implementation is the actualization of the intended benefits to your organization that were initially desired. This also implies that if you are reaping the benefits then the software is meeting your needs and vice-versa.
So the appropriate question is: what are the benefits that a company should look for and, in particular, what is upper management really after? The obvious items that should be on your checklist are: streamlining operations, data entry error reduction, data accessibility and visibility for all users and automation of repetitive tasks. The ultimate goal would be to meet these requirements without taking away from the subjective and creative forces that still need to play a role in the overall business model. The truth is that you achieve those checklist items indirectly by focusing on your finance business requirements. The saying that “detail is king” is truer with enterprise software since as the name suggests it will have an impact on every area of your business.
The right loan and lease software selection will benefit and improve your relationships with external parties like dealers, vendors, brokers and funders and of course customers through enhanced offerings and better service. It will also positively transform origination, lending operations, accounting, customer service, collection departments and help steer strategic decision making. Ignoring the very items that make your finance business what it is (its uniqueness and qualities that make it stand apart from its competitors and the procedures and policies behind it) is a recipe for disaster. Success will never be achieved without a laser beam focus on your company’s finance requirements and overall lending business model.
So how do you get there?
The initial selection phase which is the first crucial step in establishing a solid roadmap to ultimate success:
Criteria 1: Price
Price is often the most significant and obvious driving force during the software evaluation phase but often it is based on erroneous or unrealistic assumptions like what you believe a solution is worth rather than what is realistic. A price range should be established based on what is available in the market place taking into consideration your company size and revenues. Price should also be evaluated against the overall value of a solution offering which is not only the software itself but the entire ancillary services that has to accompany it. Services like project management, consulting, training, support and software updates all contribute to an effective implementation and should not be underestimated. Look for flexibility in pricing schedules like installment payments and a pay-as-you-go structure to balance progress with payments and reduce risk.
Criteria 2: Time
Many companies start the selection process with a fixed idea of how much time should be allotted from the purchase date of the software and the end. Often, this self-imposed time line does not take into consideration the true effort and resources that will be required. Implementing loan and lease software for your finance business will impact all departments and levels of personnel from administrative personnel to upper tier management. Allow time and provide additional resources for data scrubbing and review, testing, and entry of historical and current data as well as reconciliation. Since implementation occurs over and above the normal day-to-day operations, being realistic about allowing sufficient time and resources is very often grossly under-estimated.
Criteria 3: Needs
Finally, how well the software meets your business needs should be the number one priority. Period. Completing an implementation on time and within budget will mean nothing if at its conclusion the loan and lease software does not fulfill the business requirements. Unfortunately, this realization often comes when you have already committed to a loan or lease software and are knee-deep into its operation, in other words when it’s already too late. Work with a software partner to analyze your business needs before you commit to a purchase. Place extreme focus on how you want to run your business, identify problem areas needing improvement, and communicate clearly what makes your company unique and gives you the competitive edge. Ensure that both the stated needs and resulting software solution specifications are defined and outlined in writing.
The Pathway to Success
In conclusion, fulfilling both the operational and strategic needs at all levels of the organization in the way that you intend to run and manage it will not only bring the benefits desired, but will often even exceed your initial expectations if done right. Price and time constraints are secondary in that if you didn’t get the benefits and/or solve the problems that were there at the onset, then those resources invested will have been lost along with user and management confidence and morale. In the end, reaping the benefits, advantages and gains that loan and lease software must deliver to your organization is the only true measure of software success.
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