On IWMSnews.com we have published quite a few articles about Software Selection. In addition to our posts, Terry Coull CEO and Founder of Software Idols, Software Selection experts is publishing a software selection series in the coming weeks.
Selecting the right software can be an expensive, time consuming and risky experience for any business or technology manager. Before embarking on a software selection project, the following questions come to mind:
- Do you find the software market too confusing and complicated? Do you find research houses describe the players from a market presence point of view but leave one wondering which vendor is the most suited to one’s software needs?
- How do you follow a repetitive selection process? Are you are attempting to engage with multiple solution providers at the same time, short-list market leaders, and still leave enough time in a day to focus on daily support activities?
- How do you perform an assessment and still adhere to tight budget constraints? How do you expedite this process conducting just enough market research and what consulting help can you afford?
- How do you assess software solution providers? How do you ensure you are not buying too much or too little software functionality?
An organization’s choice of software has significant consequences beyond the licensing and implementation costs of that software. The wrong choice can mean the firm is stuck with software that does not meet business user needs or software that is underutilized and difficult to maintain. A recent survey found that up to 60% of all software selection decisions end up with users being dissatisfied by the chosen solution.
A simple process
The good news is that there is a simplified approach to address all of the above concerns of selecting the right software, for the right reasons, for each specific user. Software Idols, a startup consultancy, employs the talent show format of the popular television series American Idol to software in order to improve software selection decisions. This format encourages business technology managers to follow a simple streamlined process that includes facilitating an easy-to-understand reality “roadshow”, where software solution providers interactively demo software capabilities real-time and over the web. This due diligence, fair process engages all players ensuring that experts, managers and software users judge solution finalists in each business software category. They have the final say.
By applying this process and format, business technology managers can reduce the user dissatisfaction rate by following a simple Ten-Step “fast track” guided approach to make sure users and stakeholders can attain favorable returns on their technology software.
Ten simple steps to software selection
- Engage with the people. Lead your enterprise community stakeholders in the selection process and formally start a project that defines clear roles, sets a timeframe to select a solution and defines objectives and success criteria. Inspire confidence in your business clients by coordinating a technology solution due diligence exercise.
- Gather the expectations. Get your users to explain their needs, by keeping it very simple and ensure that ones does not over-engineer requirements documentation… in other words, “keep it simple!”, “make it relevant!”, and “keep it to the point!”.
- Look at your landscape. Look at your current technology environment; record each role, stage each process step and flowchart the roles performing each task, defining both automated systems and manual tasks.
- Get outside the “office”. Get out of your office and look at the market software products. Focus and look closely at the business process offerings, features and functionalities in these market solutions.
- Cover the walls. Plaster your conference rooms with constant reminders of your requirements and the outside world. Compile use cases and storyboard “Day in the Life of” (DILO) scripts of your business processes that are addressed in technology solutions.
- Map a course. Focus on a strategic multi-year journey to get your users what they want. Look at all options, and that should include the opportunities of whether to “buy”, “host” or build custom solutions.
- Ditch the PowerPoint. Replace bullet descriptions with software demonstrations about real world use- case demonstrations. Get users to score these demos looking closely at gaps in missing functionality, and opportunities to integrate. Define options, and vote on the finalist.
- Look at your finalist. Conduct a technology assessment. Bring the finalist product vendor in and “look under the hood”.
- Build a business case. Make sure you define the cost, detail the timeframe to implement and break out the business benefits.
- Get consensus from all parties. Before contracting and implementing a solution, making sure all expectations are established including success criteria to measure and keep the project on track and within budgets defined by the sponsors and stakeholders.