Insight
Feb 9, 2021
|
Flowhaven

11 Questions to Ask When Picking an LRM for Your Team

Picking the right LRM is a lot like shopping for running shoes. You may try on different styles. But when you find the perfect fit, you'll move quickly and gain the confidence you need to go further. (You might even get a few compliments, but legally we can't promise that.)

Getting products to market, giving timely status updates, communicating with partners, or all of the above can be challenging. After all, managing a licensing program is hard work. If you don't have the right tools in place, you can hurt your team's ability to succeed. Imagine trying to run in a marathon without tying those new shoes. It just won't work. 

Que Licensing Relationship Management software. Sure, you may have had some success with your old methods. But taking the time to find the right LRM for your team will help you exceed your goals and rise above the competition. 

As you probably know, Licensing Relationships Management is a relatively new field. That's what makes it so exciting. There are a handful of solutions on the market—each with its options and features to consider. 

If you're exploring LRM for the first time, choosing one tool can feel pretty overwhelming. You might even wonder if you need LRM software at all, let alone understand what LRM you need. 

Take a deep breath. We created this handy guide to help you choose the LRM to fit your every business need. 

 

1. Why do I need an LRM solution?

Healthy partner relationships are the glue in any licensing deal. Without them, your programs are doomed to fall apart. 

How do you currently communicate with your internal and external partners? Do you know who's responsible for each task? How do you hold your partners (and yourself) accountable? If you answered each question with "no," then it's time you got to know LRM.

When you've done a thorough analysis of the weak spots in your business, you can begin to compare them to the functionality of each system you're considering.

Look at the transition options, ability to customize, cost, scalability, and business value. The tool you pick could be the difference between long hours at the office spent correcting costly mistakes, and creating a fast, accurate work environment that helps you get home in time for dinner. 

2. What if I already have an LRM?

A lot of large companies have an LRM in place. But that doesn't mean the system you have fits your needs. It doesn’t matter if you’re a licensing agency or a big brand. If using your existing system feels like a chore or you still spend most of your time on manual processes, you might want to consider other options. 

Before throwing out your current LRM, remember that just switching to a new system without a focused plan to drive and sustain the new initiative might leave you just as unsatisfied. 

Do your homework and think about the experiences you've had with your current software. Acknowledge what's working, what hasn't, and what you need to get the best results the next time around.

As a business professional, you know timing is everything. Here are a few ways to tell if the clock has run out on your current LRM: 

  • Low adoption rate. You may have purchased the software, but does anyone on your team use it? 
  • No clear improvements. When you compare data from before and after you adapted the system, do you any significant changes?
  • Partner data has become harder to find. Is it harder to locate important information about your partners?

3.  What if my CFO doesn't see the value? 

Like any new approach, not everyone will see the value in adopting an LRM right away. That's perfectly okay. 

Pro tip: You can even use it to your advantage. 

Think about your goals in a quantifiable way. Measure how the system can help you improve partner satisfaction, raise revenue, or speed up turnaround times. When you know exactly what your goals are and how the solution can benefit every team member, approaching the Chief Financial Officer (or whoever holds the company's purse strings) becomes a lot less scary. 

Be prepared to explain the role LRM can play in helping your team meet its financial goals. Link your LRM initiative to the organization's strategic direction, and be sure to have a solid LRM plan, complete with forecasted metrics. Show how it works with existing financial management software.

With Flowhaven, you can easily demonstrate how you will chart growth over the LRM initiative's life. Without facts and figures to show the potential ROI, it will be hard to make your case.

4. What Should I be Looking for?

There have never been more licensing solutions available than there are today. To complicate things further, each one has more features than ever before. Don't be fooled by flashy sales pitches. The right solution for your team is a transparent, easy-to-use system that can help you precisely attack your challenge-like Flowhaven. 

Take a good hard look at how you run your licensing program and business. This means going through and mapping every business process as it works today so that you can understand what needs to be done and how it needs to be done.  

To take the first step, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Describe your key business processes. Sales, account management, brand assurance, product development, royalty management. What do these processes look like in your company? What steps do the processes usually consist of?
  • Identify the steps. Do any of these processes take too long, or partners complain about them?
  • Spot the differences. How do licensing processes aimed at new partners differ from existing partners?
  • Take measurements. How do you measure your licensing team and partners' performance? And if you don't measure it, how would you like to be able to do this?
  • See what's missing. What kind of information does your brand management team get access to, and how?

 

Don't be satisfied with your first draft. Take your time and get a second opinion from people who have nothing to gain from agreeing with you. 

After you've revised your processes, you may find that you have to remove some steps and add others. You might even need to sequence tasks and functions differently, etc. 

By the time you are finished with this step, you will have documented the best processes for your business!

5. Will it fit with the technology I already use?

No matter how attractive a new solution is, if it's not compatible with the technology your team uses every day, it may cause stress. Usually, businesses integrate an LRM system into their existing software stack. Even if you don't have any technology to integrate at all, writing down the answers to these questions will go a long way in helping you set up a list of requirements for your LRM vendor.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Usefulness. Is your future LRM system going to be a one-team solution, or will your entire team use it?
  • Integration. What other business applications do you have that you want to integrate with an LRM system?
  • Support. Will your team and partners need training to get started?
  • Strength of your Team. How sophisticated or open is your team in learning new technology?
  • On-the-Go. Will you need access to the LRM on your mobile and laptop when traveling?

Always check if the LRM system you're considering can interface with other applications you already have in place. If you don't, you'll have to spend time replacing each of your existing systems or finding workarounds. 

6. Consider your budget

Adding an LRM isn't just a fun experience. It's an investment. A typical LRM system is a 7-to 10-year (or more) commitment of time and resources.

Once you've looked at the cost of implementing an LRM, look at the ROI:

  • More accuracy
  • Less person-hours
  • Less fraud and waste
  • Better regulatory compliance
  • Better reporting with real-time data and at-a-glance dashboards
  • More proactive analysis for strategic decision-making

 Today's licensing teams are being asked to do more with less. Budgetary concerns play a significant role in which LRM solution you're going to choose. Current business conditions even hold some business back. Other companies can take a longer-term view of their LRM investment.

While it might be tempting to stay on your existing system, consider that older software systems often lack the functionality that is a part of modern LRM platforms, such as advanced dashboards, reporting, and usability features that can improve productivity and save money. 

Instead of the software's cost, most modern LRM vendors will charge a fee for every system user.

Flowhaven offers internal users license-based pricing with unlimited guest users. We believe per-user pricing is the best option for licensing teams as the solution's cost is easy to calculate and forecast. Unlimited guest users encourage business growth for the customer.

7. What would I need to get started? 

LRMs aren't videogames. You cant plug them in and start playing. To be successful, you need to organize deployment and onboarding for your team. Each LRM company offers something different. 

  • On-premise installation

The traditional option is to invest in an on-premise installation, which requires users to own and maintain their technology infrastructure: servers, storage, networking capabilities, and personnel. There is an initial cost for the software and licenses, plus an annual maintenance fee. Typically, there is also a cost for integration. 

Companies with their own IT departments usually choose this option because they wish to have complete control over the software regarding security and data. They also have full control over how the software is customized and configured in-house. In recent years this option has become rare in licensing companies and others as it poses other kinds of threats and risks to the business.

  • Cloud deployment

A cloud-based deployment option means that a service provider hosts the software, and the data from the LRM software is available as long as you're connected to the internet. 

The cost is broken into a per-month subscription fee, and there may be other costs as well. Most brand licensing companies prefer the cloud-based LRM (SaaS) option because of the fast deployment time, cheaper setup, and maintenance prices. Besides, you don't need an IT department with this option. All software updates are automatically pushed.

Vendors charge monthly fees instead of asking for large upfront investments. They are motivated to ensure ongoing customer success — if customers aren't successful, they can stop paying and turn the system off. 

Cloud solutions deliver benefits beyond cost savings and speed of deployment. They are 100% web-based, giving users the flexibility to work anywhere and executives the power to evaluate progress without software access limitations. 

Of course, LRM evaluation requires you to look beyond monthly fees. Think bout uptime guarantees, data storage, overhead, and other factors that add on costs.

8. But what about features?

A common mistake that businesses make when choosing a licensing system is that they get stuck comparing the features list. 

Most licensing systems have more or less basic features. Your decision will come down to paying attention to the rarely used functions, if at all.  

It's important to keep in mind what problems or processes you are trying to fix at this stage. Ask yourself if the advertised features will help you solve these problems. If the feature doesn't help you solve your problem, why use it?

Consider how much of the licensing system your employees will be able to use. Do they need all the bells and whistles? Maybe only a handful of people on your team needs advanced features? In other words, when it comes to LRM, more is not always better. 

Big picture: It is never wrong to start small.

Remember – the key to LRM success is not what the software can do, i.e., functional gadgetry. 

LRM success markers are (a) how much an individual user in an organization can use a particular set of features and (b) how well the solution can support your company's key business processes.

Working with its customers over the past years, Flowhaven has seen the same business needs come up repeatedly. That's helped the company confirm which factors are essential and drive success. 

10.Who is the right vendor for me?

Once you have identified your LRM needs, you'll be excited to pick the right vendor for your business. 

Pro tip: Invite at least two vendors to the table so that you can compare their offerings. 

Next, you'll want to create a list of requirements, including your new system's must-have features. You will use this list to help potential software vendors understand your needs and prepare a demonstration of their software's ability to meet your requirements. 

Get key stakeholders together to tell you exactly what they need to get their jobs done. Don't take anything for granted; this is the part when you look at your company with a critical eye and determine how a new LRM system can help you address your challenges to reach your goals.

Don't just interview not just the product development team, but everyone who will be using the system—from sales to managing financials. Determine the features and functions necessary, those that would be nice to have, and those required in the future. 

Since the system will have to serve your needs today and tomorrow, a system that is flexible, easy to use, and works with the way you do. 

11. Do I want best-of-breed or a full licensing suite?

The debate over whether to buy best-of-breed software or a full licensing suite continues to evolve. The decision you make will have a deep impact on your licensing strategy and other business functions. 

A best-of-breed licensing solution only focuses on specific areas of the licensing business. This kind of system won't solve all of your business process issues, just your short-term LRM needs. 

You'll end up needing to purchase other licensing software to complete the software stack. Then, investing in integrating them to get complete coverage for your business. The cost and energy to combine everything— will lead to hefty hidden fees that you might not account for upfront.

In contrast, a well-designed suite can cover all of your licensing business processes at one time. It can also grow in an integrated way with your existing systems or according to your business needs. 

The following questions will help you decide which vendor can give you the best experience.  

1. Industry experience. What is the company's solution capabilities, and what types of companies do they work with?

2. Local partnerships. Is someone available locally to help you get set up?

3. Customization and training. How much will it cost to configure the solution to your needs and organize training sessions?

4. Plays by the rules. Is the vendor flexible enough to evolve alongside your business? 

5. Demo booking. Does the vendor offer demonstrations or free trials?

6. User experience. How do you feel and use the program or talk to company employees?

7. GDPR-ready functionality. How will your customers' data be stored and protected?

8. References. Can the vendor give you customer references?

One suite, better licensing

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