How companies buy and deploy software? What changed?
Two months ago I decided eOne needed a better way to track internal and external projects, plan and manage our time on those and then track time sheets to see how we did in executing those projects. I want to step you through the process I took to find and deploy our solution.
- Step 1: We had done some work with a company that offered a comprehensive add-on to Microsoft CRM – for project and time sheet management. I made a call and said I would like to trial this out for use at eOne.
- Step 2: I downloaded the software and installed it on top of our test CRM solution. To do that I had to talk to IT to make sure we had a current backup in test and had to seek help in regards to answering setup questions, passwords, fitting it in with outlook clients, etc.
- Step 3: I started playing with the tool. Sometimes things seemed straightforward and others just seemed to not work how it appeared it should. I mucked about for a day and was frustrated. I called for some help and perhaps training to get me going. Training was going to come at $2000 per day. I was losing interest.
- Step 4: I decided it could not be this hard and tried again. Still could not get the calendar and planning to work. I contacted support and they said that there was a known bug in that area and I should download the new version and install it. Oh Man – Really. That was painful the first time around.
- Step 5: I installed the update (painfully) and then found the software just ran so slow. To slow to be useful. I gave up.
I started Googling for planning and time sheet solutions and found lots and lots of online, SAAS delivered mini project and time sheet apps. I picked one and signed up for the free 30 day trial. I logged in and created a project and entered a time sheet. Cool. These tools were all priced at less than $100 per month – that seemed manageable.
I signed up for another one – played with it but it was not perfect. I did this 4 or 5 times. I found one that might just work called Harvest.com. We wanted to find a time sheet entry solution for our support team, consulting team as well as all our internal projects – I had people from those teams try it out. It was not 100% what we wanted. We had some very specific processes around prepaid support hours, deducting from this total as time was entered and really easy access to the remaining hours back per client.
Harvest and Harvest Forecast were good tools but were not going to do everything we wanted, so I stopped testing the tool and my trial expired. I deleted all the follow-up emails!Still Had a Problem
My initial need had not gone away regardless of how much I ignored it. So I got back onto Google with a narrower requirement – I would leave my support team alone and just solve the issue of managing our internal projects and sales activities.
I found a few more tools. All were very simple and some too simple. One was too modern for me and was all about hashtags, @ symbols and seemed to have no structure. I knew I was too old fashioned for this!
I found timelyapp.com and liked it. This app combined planning, calendars and time sheets all into one simple interface. I had never thought of entering time sheets this way. Someone had been thinking clever here. I signed up and tested it out. Timely was not perfect but I liked it. Timely had in-app support so I asked a few questions and got responses back quickly.
I decided we should roll this out. I created logins for the whole team. I held a meeting with everyone and said that tomorrow we are all using this tool, for these reasons. I gave them a 5-minute demo.What I Did Not Do in My Buying Process:
- I did not write a requirements document
- I did not ask my IT department where we should install it
- I did not talk to my IT department at all
- I did not call a Third Party Supplier of software
- I did not speak to ANYONE on the phone
- I did not pay any money as I am still in a trial period
- I did not ask for a demo
- I did not run a training session (other than 5 minutes)
So what does this mean for all those companies (like eOne Solutions) who sell client/server software the same we have for 15 years? How do the things “I did not do” effect the buying process and what does that mean in the mid market?
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Whilst Dynamics GP is not quite click, try, buy process you describe. we are seeing increasingly prospective clients who do not ask for a demo, but will have an initial meeting, and then request a proposal followed by a follow up call and then the buy decision. So it’s beginning to move more towards the model you describe.