12 questions to ask before starting a rebate management software implementation project

12 questions to ask before starting a rebate management software implementation project

If your organization has decided it’s time to upgrade your rebate management system to facilitate further growth. You’re probably excited about the prospect of finally letting go of that old legacy system, and eager to get started on implementation. This can be a great opportunity for your business but is also not a decision to take lightly. After all you don’t want the implementation project to fail. According to Geneca, about 75% of all business and IT executives anticipate that their software projects will fail while another 75% of executives believe their projects are “doomed from the start.”

Before you even start speaking with and vetting rebate management software vendors, you should first ask yourself several questions about what your organization needs and wants from this software implementation project. The answers will help you determine your plan and understand what kind of functionality your organization requires from a rebate management system.

1. Are you considering cloud based or premise-based software?

Premise based solutions are located and installed on hardware that is owned and maintained by your company. SaaS platforms are hosted on a global platform like Microsoft Azure, that is accessed via a web browser. Make sure to do your research, the solution you choose will influence costs, security, system upgrades and accessibility.

2. Do your stakeholders support the implementation project?

You will often find stakeholders and employees are resistant to change. That’s why having all key stakeholders on board with the new rebate management system is the first step in getting the system you need. After all, it’s your team who have to use the new and improved software, on a daily basis. Even if the benefits of the system seem obvious compared to a legacy system, selling extensive change to senior stakeholders is never an easy task. A stakeholder’s focus is primarily on the bottom line, which means getting buy-in requires you to set out the key business outcomes and ROI predictions.

3. Who will be the project manager?

With a rebate management implementation there are many decisions to be made. Therefore, Project Management is critical to your success. One person - either an outside consultant or a current employee - should be in charge of managing the process to choose a solution, coordinating demos and consultations with software vendors. They should be objective and understand the concerns of many different departments including finance, sales, IT and procurement. You should ideally select a person who is respected in the organization and who is willing to embrace the change that comes with any new rebate management system.

4. Which users across your organization will need to be trained on the new rebate management system?

As with any new system, the success of your software implementation project will largely depend on end-users’ ability and their willingness to adopt it. Training is obviously an important part of your software implementation. The biggest question is whether you will lead the training and develop your own subject matter experts or whether an outside firm will lead the training.

5. What are the specific business problems you need to solve?

Figuring out the specific issues that cause your company pain may not be obvious at first but is extremely beneficial when approaching a new software vendor. For instance, do you need to gain more visibility over your deals? Is your finance team reliant on key people in the team for rebate calculations? Or do you rely on your trading partners for how much you owe?

Maybe speak to specific people in the team and ask what their daily challenges are and map out your organization’s end to end process.

6. What are your goals and objectives?

It’s important to define goals and objectives for your software implementation project. For example, you may need to go Live by a certain date or obtain a specific level of cost savings through streamlined processes. If you begin with a goal in mind, it will be much easier to achieve and much clearer to determine whether an implementation has been a success.

A good starting point to determine goals and objectives are to look at your KPIs that your organization is already tracking.

7. What features and functions do you need from a new rebate management solution?

To do this successfully think about your business’s biggest challenges that a new rebate management system would ideally solve. This involves identifying weaknesses of your current system and identifying ideal functionality in a new system. Make a checklist of the functionalities that your organization requires from their new software, then go through each software vendor and compare their functionality. Any software vendors that don’t meet nearly 100% of the needs on your checklist (or don’t have a clear roadmap to address these needs) should be removed.

8. How will you budget for your software implementation project?

It may seem obvious, but you need to have a budget in mind to pay for all this great new functionality and improvements. Think about which departments will fund the project and how much this software will be worth to you before setting a software project budget.

Also figure out how much you hope to earn (or save) with the new software you’re imagining. For example, will the extra rebate uncovered by the new system essentially fund a large portion of the cost? By freeing up your teams to focus less on the burden of managing rebate, will they negotiate better deals earning you more rebate?

9. What are your resources for implementation?

While knowledgeable and experienced software vendors will be experts on software implementation projects and training, there are some responsibilities that fall to your organization, and having the right resources for the project is essential. For example, cleaning up and organizing your rebate data before transferring it into a new rebate management system is one of those tasks. Your software vendor can help you better understand what other resources you will need for each stage of your software implementation project.

10. Do you have a timeframe for implementing the software?

Keep in mind that these projects are actually business transformation projects and, therefore, the timeline really does depend on factors like the level of customization, business complexity, data integration issues, executive buy in, creation of an effective project team and successful training.

You will find that some people want to drive the software implementation project to a quick completion, but you need to consider the time required by each department and their ability to participate and complete their tasks on time.

11. Does your new rebate management system need to integrate with existing software?

One big benefit to a rebate management implementation is the removal of spreadsheets and redundant, legacy systems. However, your new rebate management system will not remove every system in the company. Other key pieces of software that you may use such as an ERP system may remain in place and those systems usually need to connect to your new software solution. If you need real-time data transfer, then make sure the software vendor offers a comprehensive application programming interface (API).

12. Will the software be able to adapt to changes in your business as your company grows

When choosing any type of software, it is important to find a solution that will meet your organisational needs in the future, as well as today. For example, if your team becomes fully remote, SaaS excels in this environment, as it can be accessed anytime anywhere making it straightforward to setup and deploy new users and new processes.

Various companies have been implementing rebate management software to streamline their processes, make better deals and help the supply chain function as a well-oiled machine. However, this all starts with a good software vendor and implementation plan.

Take a look at Enable’s implementation methodology today.

Elizabeth Lavelle

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