When publishers take on new software like royalty management systems, it’s vital to get a full understanding of every aspect. But most companies tend to hide a few things about their solutions that, if you knew about them, might turn you away. Here are four areas where you need to delve deeper.
All providers will tell you with pride that their systems are robust, and use buzz phrases like ‘hosted on a secure platform’. But that’s not nearly good enough. There are so many components to security, and the only way to be sure about it is to look for independent certification and associated SOC 2 reports, which provide detailed information about data security, processing integrity, confidentiality and more. Ask potential providers some tough questions about security too; if they are serious about the issue then they’ll be happy to discuss it and have some ready answers. Has the company done penetration testing? Does it encrypt data when it’s transmitted to your browser? Do its employees go through security training, and how is employee security monitored? An employee clicking on a phishing email can be a greater threat than the security of the platform. Data security is a more critical issue than ever, so don’t just take it on trust when you’re told that everything is protected.
As with security, it is much easier to promise high levels of experience than to prove them. We’re aware that several companies touting themselves as experienced royalty solution providers only actually have just a few systems running all of a company’s royalties; they usually have many other primary systems and few clients in the royalty sector. That level of experience just isn’t going to cut it, and will lead to slow implementations, operational inefficiency and poor follow-up support. Publishers should ask providers exactly how many businesses use their systems for the majority of their royalties, and probe their knowledge of the unique requirements of this industry.
It’s tough to assess a provider’s ability to implement new systems. Again, every company will promise it has processes in place – and if they don’t then they will at least be able to whip together a project plan. But not all plans are equal. We’ve learned that few businesses actually have a Formal Implementation Process in place, and will instead rely on ad hoc arrangements to get them through. Buyers of a new system deserve much better than that, and should look for evidence of clear schedules, implementation milestones and contingency planning. It’s also worth talking to businesses that have previously introduced a provider’s systems, to get their honest appraisal of how the process went.
4. Quality Assurance
Every implementation of a new system should have a thorough Quality Assurance stage, to give users the confidence that the software is reliable and that any glitches have been fixed. As with implementation, QA standards vary widely, and publishers should be sceptical about any promises that providers make. Rather than using dedicated QA staff, some may simply rely on their support teams, who will be focused on other tasks. If there isn’t a dedicated team then quality can’t properly be assured, and that will inevitably cause problems further down the line. Before making any commitment, publishers should be confident that ample QA time is built into the implementation planning.
David Marlin is co-founder and President of MetaComet® Systems, a leading provider of royalty management solutions to publishers around the world. To learn more about its systems, click here.
David and the MetaComet® Systems team would love to hear BookMachine readers’ views on these and other aspects of software acquisition and implementation. Share your thoughts in the comments below.