A New PMS?
Choosing a PMS is no simple task, there are many variables and many are unique to you and your business. But there are some basic principles you can follow which will take some of the guesswork out of the equation.
A key problem for providers is determining which set of features is relevant for most businesses, after all, they don’t want to waste money creating things people don’t value.
On the other hand, one of the complaints I hear most often is ‘they won’t/can’t provide the feature I need now’. This is a major problem in keeping up with new technologies, current business thinking and delivering leading edge capability that will give you an advantage over your competition.
All I can say is that if you expect to need changes to suit you, get it in writing as part of the contract that they will deliver such changes in a timely fashion – difficult but doable.
The Feature List
If you have a system currently, write down ALL the features you like/want and in as much detail as you can. Add to this any improvements that you would like in the current system.
One of the areas PMS fall down on is good marketing data collection, you want to know everything you can about your clients.
The above will take quite while and should ideally involve the whole team. But this list is the basis of ensuring you get the best fit possible.
Put all this on a spreadsheet, and send to prospective suppliers and get them to tick those they can satisfy and a x against those they can’t. They will probably ask you for priority – tell them ‘no, just do what we ask’! If they can’t do that they are out of the running.
Once you get the spreadsheet back you can add priorities, e.g. ‘can’t live without’, ‘really important’, ‘nice to have’.
Put all the responses alongside your requirements in one spreadsheet.
With this you can determine the best fit by adding all the scores. Be careful to be unbiased when you do this, if something becomes more important just change the priority.
I prefer cloud based because it removes a lot of pain in terms of backup. But: make sure that:
only currently supported operating systems are used – Windows 2003 is no longer supported – hence any vulnerability will not be patched by Microsoft. Everyone should now be on Windows 2012 minimum…
the systems are properly updated with latest patches – especially security patches
quality and upgrade of antivirus and similar software
avoidance of intrusion via email
avoidance of intrusion via floppy disks, DVDs, CD ROMs or USB sticks – sometimes called sneaker-net
control over sites that might be accessed via the cloud solution for instance using tools like Open DNS to prevent users accidentally going to dodgy sites
backups are made regularly – for instance in SQL server you could do a daily backup and do ‘log shipping’ every hour – or perhaps every minute – see this useful blog:
backups and logs are moved instantly off the network to an inaccessible storage platform
users are forced to change their passwords regularly
passwords are strong – watch this video:
Suppliers of your systems, cloud based or otherwise, should be able to demonstrate/prove that all the above is dealt with effectively.