Take charge when selecting a new POS system

Selecting a new POS system does not have to be a daunting task if you formulate and follow a plan. It’s your business; it’s your money, so take control of the process. Lack of planning dooms most POS projects. These steps are the basic blueprint I use for my clients.
First Step: Needs Assessment and Objectives:
• Setting goals: What problems are you trying to solve, and defining your goals for this project.
• Is your store ready to take the step? Are there any internal cultural or operational issues that you need to address before you can move forward with this project?
• Establish a budget for the project: 2%-3% of retail sales is a good rule of thumb.
• Buy or lease: Determine how you are going to pay for the system early in the process.
Planning and Evaluation:
• Develop a system requirements document listing all the functions and features you want. Differentiate between critical and nice to have features.
• If you are replacing a system, detail what you like and dislike about that system.
• Functions that need to be included in you requirements document: Inventory, Point of Sale, purchasing and receiving, customers, website, installation and training.
• This document will be used to score and evaluate the software vendors
• Provide copies of all reports, forms and labels you are currently using to perspective vendors.
• No more than three vendors should be invited to demo their system. Score each vendor against your needs document.
• Provide a demo format to each the vendor. This ensures you control the demo and see the features that are important to your business. In addition you will have a standard format to score each vendor.
• Involve your key people, their buy in is critical. People on the front line can either be an asset or impediment to the project. They need to feel they helped chose the system they are going be asked to use.
• Identify “GAPS”, required features that the software doesn’t currently offer. Will these features be in future releases, offered as a customization or will never be available?
• Schedule a second demo with the one or two vendors that best match your needs.
• Quote comparison: All vendors must provide an itemized price quotation. The quotes should be put into an Excel spreadsheet and compared by line item.
• The total cost of ownership. Support contracts, supplies, software customizations and a cost provision for replacement equipment needed during the first five years of ownership all should be factored into the total cost of ownership equation.
• Let the vendor make money, it’s a partnership. Negotiate with the vendor for price concessions that are reasonable for both parties. Vendors are more likely to give price concessions on soft cost items such as training and support. These are real cost items to the retailer, but to the vendor they are factored into their normal overhead costs.
• References: Get a least five references. Prepare a list of question prepared in advance to ask each reference. Visit one or two reference if possible.