Business digitalization? Yes, please, but how do I start?
As a medium-sized business owner, you’re likely to notice where your business processes need improving quite quickly. For example, now that your team is working remotely, you know that stacks of documentation, folders and files are really getting in the way of effectively collaborating on a day-to-day basis. The amount of Excel sheets the team has going is driving you nuts and your software isn’t optimized for mobile use either.
Yet as a business owner, you’re always on the go, barely get a minute to yourself and just don’t know where to start when it comes to digitalizing your business processes?
Start with a project brief
Before you start looking for a software company to work with and executing the details, we’ve seen time and time again just how important it is to invest in defining the parameters. We recommend starting with a project brief. This document contains all the essential details of your project while giving you more clarity to achieve your digitalization goals.
This should be seen as a living document that is continuously updated and extended — while also serving as a reference point for all stakeholders involved. Below you will find a detailed breakdown of what topics you will be covering and how you can figure them out:
By the way: you can also adapt your project brief to suit your needs and wants; there’s no right or wrong way to go about this — just get started.
Give company overview
This is all about defining what your company does at a glance. If your company is too large to explain, use this section to provide an overview of the department/team that wants to digitalize a specific business aspect.
Either way, it’s essential for any partner you may work with to know your work environment.
TRIGO is a business software development company specializing in custom solutions based in Vienna, Austria. Our tried and tested development process gets our clients to the finish line. TRIGO currently has a team of 17 developers, product owners, software architects and UX experts.
The company was established in 2011 and has had over a decade of experience in customized software development. You can find out more under www.trigo.at.
Create project overview
In the next step, summarize the project and the motivation behind it. This section does not need to entail specific requirements, it is just a rough overview. These will be created and documented in the later planning phase.
Following the company’s rapid growth over the last few years and the constant expansion of the team, our digital processes (based on Excel sheets) have reached their limits. We have to carry out a lot of manual work and run through flawed action steps to handle the primary business process. A custom software solution should not only make day-to-day tasks easier for employees, but also allow the company to scale even further.
Try to define a rough but realistic timeline for your project. If strict deadlines have already been set for specific deliverables, this is where you should list them.
The software solution should take on the first tasks by mid-2022 and go into full operation by the end of 2022.
We all know every business owner also has to consider budgeting, no matter what project you initiate. If you already have a budget at hand for this project, go ahead and list that here.
We have defined a budget of €125,000 for the development of this custom software and a budget of €30,000 for one year of operation, support and maintenance.
Align with business goals
What business objectives are you trying to achieve or support through this project? It’s important to align an investment like this with your key business objectives and communicate them to your software development partner.
This ensures clarity and that you’re both steering toward the same goal; decisions are always made with this main objective in mind.
- 30 % more turnover a year after implementation
- Initiation of a new business venture
It is equally important to define what goals are not within the project’s scope, which also ensures that, during implementation, we continue to work in the right direction.
- Environmentally harmful consequences due to the project. (We dont want that obviously)
Success factors / KPIs
What factors are relevant for the project to be considered a success? How are these factors measured? If you don't think about these factors, a project like this can quickly become a long-running project and go well over budget.
- Successful start by 11/2021
- No budget overruns
- 100 % automation of manual process X
- 25 % increase in employee satisfaction
Challenges and things to consider
Anything that may not have found a spot above goes into this section. What additional challenges (technical, legal, geographical, etc.) are there? And what needs to be taken into consideration?
We want to integrate our existing CRM, which is technically complex but has a well-documented API.
Go ahead and fill out this example project brief
Having a clear project brief provides clarity for you and any potential partners/ service providers; to know what the project’s scope entails. It helps to eliminate misunderstandings right from the start and ensures you speak the same language. Also saving you valuable time and, more importantly, ensuring correct budgeting while guaranteeing a better result.
To make your digital transformation more straightforward, we’ve created a template for your next project brief.
Choose a custom business software service provider
Given that you don’t have the software skills in-house, you will have to go about finding a service provider you can work with. You’ll be working exceptionally close together, which is why you should not take choosing the right partner lightly.
There are a few factors to consider and weigh up:
- Competent employees & relevant expertise
- Good price-performance ratio
- Customer-oriented, committed
- Innovative, future-oriented
- Flexible in contract negotiations
- Good reputation
- Good sector-specific expertise
- International, global presence vs regional
It is essential to get an overall impression. Social media profiles, publicly available presentations and articles can be helpful here. It’s not about understanding everything, especially if the content is very technical; but, did you get a first good impression? Does their approach align with yours? Also, listen to your gut feeling here.
Good value for money
Will I be offered a fixed price, or will the risk be passed on to me by means of T&M (Time & Material; charging an hourly rate)? We’d also recommend getting a couple of quotations (note that if the project has a large scope, it’s industry standard that there will be a charge for a quote — you should, however, be informed if that’s the case).
Talking and exchanging experience parameters with other business owners and partners is also helpful. Perhaps someone in your network has experience with this particular service provider? Overall, it’s important to feel you are making the right decision with this investment, otherwise, you’ll always ask yourself - “could I have gotten a better service somewhere else?” - during implementation and that’s not helpful for anyone involved.
Is the service provider meeting you at eye level, or do they make you feel like you don’t know what you’re talking about? Is communication transparent or is there an attempt to withhold information e.g. to achieve a higher price.
Client-oriented & committed
Does the service provider focus on the customer or on the technology? Do you get the impression that they really want to solve your problem? Or do they just implement the same standard software solution for every client (e.g. an ERP kit)?
The real question, in that case, is, will you get what you really need and is it a sustainable solution for years to come?
Does the proposed solution — the proposed way of solving the problem you have at hand seem modern and future-oriented? It’s a good idea to talk to an experienced person you can trust who can help you evaluate. Get a list of the technologies used and look into them by simply Googling the technology, search through forums or LinkedIn groups to figure out whether this technological solution is bound to stand the test of time.
Flexible in contract negotiations
Did you just receive a 12.384-page contract that you just can’t wrap your head around? Has everything been explained to you in detail? Have your individual needs and wants been taken into consideration? Negotiations are always a great indication of what you can expect.
Are there successful reference projects I can look at? Happy client referrals that I have things in common with? These can also be a great indicator of whom to go with.
Solid industry know-how
Another aspect to consider is how well does the service provider already know my industry and business sector? Are there already projects in my field? Is there perhaps a conflict of interest with my competitors?
International, global presence vs. regional
Does the company fit my location? Do I operate internationally or regionally? Does it understand the market and the framework conditions? Does it produce locally or outsource? ⇒ will a decision be made with my best interests in mind?
You can weigh up these different factors using a Cost-utility-analysis, that way you can compare each option in an objective manner. You can download a template here.
Alright — that wraps up our step-by-step breakdown of where to start with your process of digitalization. We know it can seem like a lot, which is why we also offer services to map out your processes and nail your project brief. You can find out more about that here or
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