My answer to What are the a must have systems in a business?
Answer by Ken Larson:
RULES OF THUMB FOR SELECTING AUTOMATED TOOLS
From strategic planning to marketing, from forward pricing to job cost accounting, from subcontracting and vendor/contractor management to human resources policies, the small firm itself undergoing a business system design projects.
Understand the requirements first, review existing processes and tools next, develop a thorough requirements statement of what must be done in the way of enhancements and then consider automating. While performing your analysis keep the following 5 rules of thumb in mind:
1. An electronic computer software package is not a system. One cannot acquire a system by acquiring computer capability.
2. One acquires a system by conducting systems analysis, achieving a design and processes by working with the people who will run the system. This is hard work and time consuming. Processes are improved and made more efficient by modifying user behavior not by automating it.
3. Once system and analysis and system design are complete one chooses tools to assist in running the system. The adequacy of a computer tool is driven by the requirements of the most efficient system design.
4. The biggest mistake implementation teams make is to believe they are buying a system when they buy a software tool or let the software drive the systems analysis process. That is like asking a mechanic to drive a wrench from New York to St. Louis. It has resulted in millions of dollars wasted and plummeting efficiency in many organizations, large and small.
5. It is necessary to design a system and processes unique to the company to meet user requirements before going shopping for computer tools. If you do not you will be pigeon-holing your company into a COTS mentality and become a slave to the company that owns the source code. If you want anything changed it costs a big buck.