We all hear the bad news when a vendor is sued over a failed implementation. When this happens, we assume there are many other unhappy customers whose experiences do not get broadcast, because most companies would rather not litigate. But are there also many happy customers? And what makes a happy customer? \nWe have a created an online survey to determine just how successful — or unsuccessful — technology investments turn out to be. Other surveys have been conducted but it’s difficult to know whether the results can be trusted. Our approach to obtaining trustworthy results is to allow only CPAs to respond. \nOur survey includes questions about investments in enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM) and business intelligence (BI). We have chosen these products because they are so widely used and because we have been conducting vendor surveys on them for many years.\nSee our 2014 surveys:\nERP \nCRM \nBI \nThere is a separate page for each type of system in the survey.\nHOW IT WORKS\nWe are asking respondents to provide their names, email addresses and positions within their organizations. We are also asking a few questions about the size of the organization and its industry. We would expect results might vary depending on these variables. We will publish the results of the survey in the April edition of CPA Magazine by company size. Only those who respond to the survey will have access to detailed results by industry which would be useful for benchmarking purposes. \nSYSTEMS\nWe have included system names, so that we can see if there is any correlation between satisfaction and brand. We are also asking about deployment. Some systems are run on computers located on the premises of the organization using the software. Others are accessible through the cloud (Internet) either in a SaaS environment (multiple organizations accessing the same instance of the software / public cloud) or in a hosted off-site environment (only one organization can access the software / private cloud). The question is whether satisfaction with a system has anything to do with the way it is deployed.\nCOSTS\nWe are also asking about the costs of the system. These are broken out by type — licence, implementation, hosting fees, maintenance and support, upgrade costs as well as internal costs. We are asking for the cost breakdown for the first year and for an average over five years. It will be interesting to see whether there is a correlation between satisfaction and costs.\nIMPLEMENTATION\nOur survey includes questions about satisfaction with implementation from a number of perspectives, including whether the system was on time, on budget, and whether the items in scope were implemented. These three criteria are the key concerns for project managers. The biggest problem is that scope is often not well defined. So if there is an increase in scope, there will also be an increase in cost and/or a delay. \nMEASUREMENTS OF SUCCESS\nAnother big problem with investments in technology is that in many cases, there is no clear measurement of success. Some think success happens when you go live. Others claim the key consideration is whether the project is on time and on budget. Although these measurements are important, they are not the most important. \nA better approach is to associate metrics to critical success factors (CSFs): those things you must do well as an organization to be successful. The metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) measure attainment of CSFs. Before making the investment, organizations should identify the goal KPIs. When these goal KPIs are achieved, it’s time to celebrate.\nIt turns out that most KPIs have something to do with improved decision making, productivity, customer service, accuracy, timeliness, quality and employee morale. Many organizations are also looking to achieve a positive return on investment but this is usually not possible because many of the benefits are not tangible and dollar benefits cannot be calculated with any accuracy. \nLessons learned\nThe survey includes a spot for respondents to share their lessons learned. We will share these lessons with you as well as any insights that we have uncovered through the survey. Stay tuned.\nTake the survey here. \nPlease respond by April 15.