Keep it simple. That is the key for successfully implementing credit management software. In this article we explain how you achieve that.
Why credit management software
Success starts with determining what you want; the “why”. Both for you, and for the supplier. A successful project requires an investment upfront in devising the requirements. This allows for a faster and smoother implementation. The preparation consists of 3 main steps.
Step 1: Determine the goals
It starts with declaring why you want credit management software. What are the benefits for your organization? Those benefits are the objectives you want to achieve. Write this down and regularly state the goals in the team during the project.
Step 2: How to achieve the goals
Step 2 is determining what is needed for achieving the goals. What should the software be able to do? This step isn’t about defining the look and feel. It’s about the functions the software should support. Think of areas such as communication, sending emails and risk management. You will draw up an overview of items and the supplier indicates how their software supports this.
An example. You want to approach customers based on their behaviour. For this you have access to data such as turnover, payment behaviour and external credit information. The supplier must explain how the software supports this requirement. How does it measure customer behaviour? What options are there for exchanging and integrating data with third parties?
During this step you don’t dive into the details of a requirements. That’s part of the implementation. Instead you determine which functional areas are required to achieve the objectives from step 1.
Step 3: Technical requirements
As an extension of step two, you look at technical requirements. How do you want to exchange data between systems? Who is responsible for hosting? What security requirements are set? These are indispensable items when selecting the supplier.
Choosing the right vendor
Choosing a vendor starts with sending requirements to multiple parties. Each party must explain how it fulfils the set requirements. This usually starts in writing followed by a demo.
If you have requirements that go beyond the standard, a demo is not enough. In such cases, we recommend a Proof of Concept. The supplier sets up a limited number of the required features in the software. This lets them demonstrate that they can meet the requirements. In addition, both parties get a better understanding of what needs to be done.
In addition to the demo, ask a supplier how they set up not-standard requirements. Can the configuration be easily modified? Do regular software updates still apply? The interpretation differs per platform and these questions prevents nasty surprises, and costs, afterwards.
There are several methods for implementing software. At CE-iT we use an approach based on Kanban. The method itself is not sacred, but certain parts such as adding details to the requirements are.
During the implementation you will add details to the requirements and break them into smaller chunks. This must be at a level that everyone understands the required features. It should contain enough details for the supplier to configure it in the software. Use as a rule of thumb: the smaller the requirements, the better.
An example is using credit information with third party data. This isn’t a single requirement. Split it into smaller pieces such as:
- Identify the customer at the third party.
- Retrieve the data from the supplier.
- Periodic updates.
- Workflows based on triggers.
We breakdown items, so that they are easier to understand. The smaller an item is, the better people understand it. This ensures less interpretation differences and therefore less rework from testing. The preparation is more work, but in the end you save time.
The elaborated items together form the backlog. This is part of a central board that is accessible for the whole team and which contains al to do’s. In this way, every team member can see in which phase an item is.
Make sure you write down the detailed requirements, because writing asks for clear thinking.
Work with a small team
Limit the number of team members for the project. Internally the team has someone from IT, a maximum of 2 future users and a product owner. Those users are necessary to work out the functional requirements. The supplier also has a team of 2 people.
For a complex implementation, you can expand the team on both sides by up to 2 people.
Working with a small team requires less coordination and the chance of miscommunications decreases. At CE-iT, rarely more than 2 people work on a project, regardless of the size and complexity.
The use of jargon is tempting. However, you should avoid it. Not everyone is familiar with those terms and that causes confusion. Besides that, the meaning of jargon defers per country.
Use plain language instead of jargon. When detailing the requirement, describe what the feature should do. This forces you to think about the why of the feature and leaves less room for noise.
The team members have continuous contact about the work. At least weekly there is a short standup with all team members. You use the standup for aligning the team, highlight progress and tackling not addressed issues.
The stand up can be done physically, by phone, via Slack or Microsoft Teams. Choose the channel that suits the team best. Depending on the phase of the project, you adjust the frequency of the standup.
No fixed reports
The advantage of a small team is that communication lines are shorter. Together with the backlog, this makes that you can skip additional reporting. The team is familiar with the details and the standups smooth out issues.
This approach increases the chance of a successful implementation of credit management software. It reduces complexity and makes it more manageable.
Keep it simple.
Want to read more? This article tells you why you should use credit management software.