Art and Science of Software Selection
Well, software selection is really a tough task. Be it an ERP, CRM or BI software. Experts advise to follow a structured methodology for selecting the right software. Here it goes:
1. Identify your needs and document those
2. Circulate Request for Information to the vendors and ask them to provide product information
3. Evaluate vendor responses to the RFI
4. Shortlist a few vendors (at least 10) based on the RFI
5. Make a request for proposal and circulate it to the shortlisted vendors
6. Evaluate vendor responses to the RFP
7. Shortlist 3 top vendors based on the RFP responses
8. Prepare Sample Data and Demo Script and circulate it to the shortlisted vendors
9. Arrange for Demo Session
10. Evaluate Vendor Demonstrations
11. Shortlist the top 2
12. Negotiate till you find the right price and terms
13. Make legal agreement (Take help of experts, most of the vendors draft the agreement in the terms most beneficial to them)
14. Award the contract
Sounds simple? No way. You need a professional consultant to help you find a matching solution. What is the use of software that doesn’t work the way it was promised? Software selection is an art and science.
Art in the sense that you need to be really well versed with the software industry, human problems, the way humans work.
Science in the sense that you should know the structured methodology of software selection, man days estimation, technological jargons, customization needs and strengths and weaknesses of a software platform.
In my view, no software is good or bad. Software works the way it is designed and intended to be used. We humans expect either too little or too much from it and create problems. It really requires introspection before judging whether it is the software to be blamed for or our ignorance about the requirements and the features that the software is intended to offer.
The reasons for this include:
- An inability to analyze processes and/or systems that make a business work
- A lack of a general knowledge of IT
- A lack of expertise to computerize the business processes
- There is the sub-optimal use of IT through the non-identification of the information needs of the business, resulting in the mismatching thereof to IT requirements
- Finally, a lack of a formal, affordable means to assist in the decision-making process as to what IT to use where, when and how within the business environment.
Often, an organization will have a business problem that it moves to solve with a specific technical solution. They then install new software without considering whether the solution is an apt one and without knowing what it will take to make the technology work.
Many great initiatives never reach their full potential. The initiatives fail to meet their stakeholder expectations, return on investment targets, and more importantly, the expectations for customer impact. Common pitfalls include:
- Flawed design of strategies
- Inadequate risk management and mitigation plans
- Competing or misaligned initiatives
- Inability to facilitate and manage the project
Often the source of these missed opportunities is a lack of experience and an inability to remain focused on the objectives while balancing the ongoing needs of the business.
To be continued… Hopefully!!!