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How to select business software

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IT selector

At a certain point in your life you realize that you need a (new) car.

Maybe because you just don’t feel like cycling to work everyday anymore; maybe because public transport just doesn’t do it for you; or maybe you just want one because your neighbour just bought one and he can’t stop talking about how great it is!

Whatever the reason, there are different ways to go about the process of buying a car. Most people will think about want and need regarding the type of car, e.g. SUV, sedan or 4×4, the budget they have and their friends’ recommendations.

Few people will go to a cardealer to compare the different models, and then choose the biggest car for the lowest price.

Still, this seems to be a method that most companies use to select their business software. They speak with, say, 10 suppliers, have them demo their solutions, pick the 2 best and finally select the one with the best offer.

Now, have they chosen the best solution or the best of just those 10 solutions?

Many companies want, and need, an external and independant consulting firm to partner with during this process, and here’s a list of steps we think you should take following our extensive experience in the market:

  1. Define and refine your business processes.
  2. Assess and prioritize your business requirements.
  3. What is your current solution lacking?
  4. Use the business requirements to define the project scope and goals.
  5. Determine budget (based on users, timeframe, growth, hardware, support).
  6. Send out RFI (Request for Information) to vendors/suppliers.
  7. Use vendors feedback on RFI to create a shortlist.
  8. Set up a demo script using organization’s specific data.
  9. Have a shortlist of suppliers demo using script.
  10. Evaluate scripted demo’s and shortlist two suppliers.
  11. Visit suppliers references.
  12. Proof of Concept phase.
  13. Gap analysis.
  14. Assemble project team (both external and internal).
  15. Send out RFP (Request for Pricing) to both shortlist suppliers.
  16. Contract negotiation (cost, timeframe, training, support).
  17. Select supplier and start (phased) implementation.

Some organizations may need more or less steps, or a different sequence of steps.

Be that as it may, the focus in a business software selection project should be on the organizations processes and needs, rather than on the solution itself.

The solution is merely a tool to support the company’s process; the means to achieve the objective.

This post has been written by IT Selector, an independant business sofware consultancy

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One thought on “How to select business software

  1. David TurnerDavid Turner

    Good post, a comprehensive list for firms to follow. What I would advise evaluation teams is to focus on ‘what makes you different’, not what makes you the same.

    In other words, don’t create RFIs and demo scripts that prove a system can do all the basic processes like create and post a journal, or handle a purchase order. If you’ve chosen established suppliers and products you can assume they can all balance a set of books correctly and do the basics, or they wouldn’t be in business. Besides, you check that out at reference stage if you have concerns.

    Instead spend the time to investigate how they can handle a specific process that you do differently to others in your sector, or to look at other unique issues (‘we restructure every 6-12 months – how hard is it to change the system and reports to reflect that?’ ‘We frequently acquire other firms – what does it take to set them up in the system?’ etc).

    That way you make sure the system will work the way you want it to and not the other way round!

    Reply

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