The Five Stage Process on How to Choose and Implement Business Apps
App Tips

The following gives a fair bit of detail which is used when looking at full projects across an entire business. However, the concepts are the same for smaller projects like an install of an invoice, receipts, bills processing module like Receiptbank..

Stage 1: Scope

Scoping is the best and only place to get everyone on the same page as to how you will measure success of the project. This guides the entire process and ensures you have clear and agreed goals and direction.

A Scope document will cover:

  1. What’s the problem/opportunity? An overview of what the business issue is and a description of what the project will entail.
  2. What’s the business case?
  3. So what is the ROI? Cost reduction, revenue increase? Or even compliance (AML)
  4. Who’s involved (internal and external): Who owns the project (who’s paying the bill?) Who else has a key need for the outcomes or a key involvement in the project
  5. What are your required outcomes: What are the project deliverables, what results/benefits are we targeting?
  6. Project Budget and Timeframe: How much do we anticipate spending and on what? when do we want it done by?
  7. Current Tech Stack: What do they currently use? Including email, doc storage, custom systems, spreadsheets and bits of paper! Is the data in existing systems accurate and easily accessible to convert?

Stage 2: Discovery and Definition

Then it is a deep dive into the processes in the business. 

Review and document existing processes and issues

We use the “10 hats” concept of a business to guide this exercise when looking at an entire business. The 10 hats cover all the departments from board reporting through marketing, sales, operations, Admin, HR etc. 

These processes need to be captured for modification in the next phase and ongoing use by the staff of the business. Flow charts can help for more complex processes.

Identify the opportunities to do things better

As you walk through the processes,  look for roadblocks, manual processes, what would help the staff, what are any customer complaints about, what causing problems etc.

Define  “must have’s” vs “like to have’s”

Rally important to define this as when it comes to the final solution there is always a need to compromise on functionality vs price. So it helps to know what functions are essential for the new system(s).

Check the data

It is always a good idea to check existing data. Is the clean and tidy, is it accurate, is there any merging or clean up work to do. No point starting a new system with bad data. Include cleanup work in your implementation phase pricing.

Then the new solution gets designed.

Stage 3: Product Selection and Costing

App options are researched and reviewed for functionality fit, usability, ability to integrate to the other systems and of course price.

There are many websites around that can help like GetApp and Capterra,  but again, specialist support in areas you are not comfortable with is a big help.

Demos are conducted of the selected app(s) and then the best method of finalising the selection is using an evaluation matrix. A simple table comparing things like functional fit, usability, price, ability to integrate etc. Rate each point out of ten and add up the scores. You can also apply a “weighting” factor if some criteria are more important than others.

Once selections are made, the final solution design (including how the apps integrate) is drawn up and the price for the implementation phase of the project is finalised.

Stage 4: Implementation

Complete any data cleanup. Test any conversion (export/import)  routines.

Set up “sandbox” environments or trials where you can train new users and test processes.

Prepare training material like videos, presentations or even links to the apps training videos.

Finalise updated process documentation. Again, simple overviews with video links, use key staff to develop the processes during the testing phase. Get creative and ensure the team have them, use them and can update them if needed.

For critical systems you can parallel run to compare before switching over.

Go live with the new apps!

Stage 5: Review

Review the outcomes back to the agreed scope.

Essential to continue learning and improve your services and project profitability. Did we achieve the business case and ROI. Did we get all the outcomes? What can we learn for the next time. Then update your own processes!

Don’t forget to schedule any follow ups (maybe extra support around the first month end, or the next stocktake etc.)

And look for the opportunity for ongoing support revenue as discussed in our blog what services can an accountant or bookkeeper deliver.

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