How to Choose the Right Software

There are few responsibilities that instill fear in leaders quite like replacing software systems. Due to the sheer number of decisions and risks, we see many organizations opt out and put off changes at all, just limping along with systems that either don’t support or actively hinder their operations. 

This challenge does not need to be intimidating. Wipfli recommends a six-step approach that lays out the stages and milestones required to find a solution that optimizes value and helps achieve desired organizational outcomes. 

Identify the goals

By clearly defining the “why, what, and how” of your institution’s needs, you will find it easier to evaluate potential solutions. If the why is a growing footprint and the need to have easy access to systems from remote 
offices, then a cloud-based application may be the best fit. If consumer self-service is driving the decision, then secure and easy to use may bubble to the top of the list. Identifying the strategic needs will help guide the process from start to finish. 


Gather data. 

The next step is to identify your stakeholders and challenge them to detail what is required of a new system. You are not redesigning your old system, instead identifying key business processes that provide competitive advantagesIdentifying and prioritizing these key features allows you to focus on a software package that delivers these market-differentiating processes for you. 



In order to make sure the software providers understand what you are looking for, you lay out your institution’s background as well as the goals of the project. This helps potential vendors align their software to your strategyAlso, if you add detailed feature requirements and day-to-day process use cases, the providers can show and tell you how their solution can drive value for your organization. 


See for yourself. 

Once you’ve narrowed your search down to a few potential solutions, ask the software providers to come to you and show you how the system works. Provide specific processes and ask them to walk through the system so you can see it firsthand. From simple transaction activity to complex financial reporting to the consumer online experience, you need to see the system in use with your processes before moving on to the next phase with the providers. 



This seems like the most difficult point, but if you’ve moved through the process, actually making a decision is a validation of your work, not a leap of faith. By checking the boxes on organization strategy and overall system requirements and putting the system through a vigorous demonstration script, you should have a framework for making the correct decision. 


Manage the change. 

As soon as the effort to choose new software begins, your employees know a change is coming. This can be disruptive to the entire employee base. Even if everything goes 100% according to plan, your teams will have to deal with changes to their daily work. To make this less disruptive, communicate – early, often, and in both directions. Even before the software is picked, information shared with employees can set the stage for quality interaction. Let your employees ask questions and answer them as best you can. This helps staff start to accept that change is coming and that they will be involved in the journey along the way. 

Choosing the right software system can be managed and quality results can be achieved by using this methodical approach. Identify the drivers for change, isolate the key business processes the new system will need to execute, and talk with your staff about the process. Your new software system can be the catalyst for great results. 

LEARN MORE at the FREE Wednesday, May 19 Coffee Break with Wipfli event on this topic. To register, visit here: 


By: Deron J Kling, senior manager, change management and strategic planning, and Brett Polglaze, MBA, senior manager, Wipfli LLP