Our primary service is to help you make an optimum selection of systems for:
Point of Sale
Shopping Site feeds/integration
smarter business intelligence
customer database management
Our role in the systems acquisition process is to:
develop functional systems specifications based on intensive on-site interviews with key managers and systems users
prepare a Request for Proposal (RFP) that focuses on the key relevant functions and reporting requirements (for more information, see the Methodology section)
select appropriate vendor candidates from our close working knowledge of the capabilities and resources of specialized vendors serving the direct commerce field
review proposals and negotiate contracts to get the optimum system at the best price and on the most reasonable terms
We can also assist with or manage the systems implementation process (see below).
Benefits and Advantages
We believe that our experience of more than 20 years evaluating, specifying, and selecting systems for direct commerce order management and fulfillment, and our very focused approach to this process, give you the following benefits and advantages:
rapid turnaround of the project — typically 2 - 3 weeks from start to finish to prepare and finalize the RFP
priority response from selected vendors — they know who we are, and appreciate that our RFPs are always targeted to relevant features and functions
quality vendor selection — we never use a "shotgun" approach that submits RFPs to inappropriate vendor candidates. Nor do we "cherry-pick" a single vendor for any project, unless clearly requested by the client. We usually select six to eight vendors who:
- have systems that come close to meeting your requirements
- have a track record of successful modification and customization
- have the staff and the expertise to support such customization
a vendor "insurance policy" — vendors pay more attention to projects when MSA is involved. If they come up short for any reason, the whole industry will know about it!
Managing Systems Implementation
The vast majority of systems are implemented haphazardly. In-house staff already have a full-time job, botched data conversions light the fuse on a time bomb of database disasters, project management challenges can be brutally intimidating, and vendor personnel typically do a superficial job of getting the system ready for use by each department.
And then there's training, which can be costly, superficial, and ineffective.
To get all this right, you need someone who's "been there, done that" to step in and make sure that every aspect of the implementation process is executed according to the highest possible standards. Let Marketing Systems Analysis be responsible for making this happen, so that you can actually benefit from your major investment in new solutions, rather than spending the next five years fighting an uphill battle to make the system "work" for you. Otherwise you'll blame the vendor(s) for your big mistake, and be calling us sooner than you'd like to for Step One above, to replace a system that never did pay off for you.
Engineering a Transition to User-Supported Systems
Sooner or later, many companies decide to become independent of their vendor's agendas and take full responsibility for their own systems in-house. This usually involves several steps, including:
additions to IT staff
expanding or redefining the role of IT in the organization
training of IT staff
re-evaluation of systems strategies
We can help make this transition a successful one, with:
the least disruption to the company
optimized continuity of systems functionality and support
the smoothest possible "Change Management" process
coordinating development of a strategic Enterprise Systems Plan
assessing user training requirements
assuring the development of effective documentation
Resolving User-Vendor Conflicts
The relationship you create and nurture with your systems vendors is critical to long-range viability of your applications. It is all too easy, however, for those relationships to become derailed by misunderstandings, miscommunication, lack of focus, or change of management on the vendor or the user side. As a knowledgeable third-party, MSA can work with you to get things back on track if there are warning signals — or a rupture — between you and your systems vendors.
Supporting In-House Development Projects
When you "go-it-alone" with direct commerce order processing systems, you can usually benefit from outside help. MSA can assist your re-engineering project by:
performing systems audits to —
- evaluate current and potential systems strategies
- determine viable systems budgets and Return on Investment
- assure optimized systems implementation
creating a comprehensive Enterprise Systems Plan
helping to develop detailed functional specifications
developing and implementing a "Change Strategy" to foster systems ownership and a sense of participation from all systems users and administrators
One of the people who helped me with the response to the RFP you sent us made this comment: "This is the best RFP I have ever had to respond to." The person that said that measures their experience in decades. When I asked "why" they said: "It flows, there's no redundancy in requests, it's easily understood, it obviously took some time, it's well- thought-out, it leaves little to question."