Software Selection: Tips To Use During Your Next Software Evaluation – The evaluation and selection process for an enterprise software is often overlooked by many organizations. Select the right software and catapult your organization ahead of your competitors by gaining valuable long-term efficiencies and process improvements. Select the wrong software and your organization can experience a set-back of more than a year costing hundreds of man-hours and thousands of dollars.
I recently commented to a colleague that unravelling your organization from a bad software decision can be more complicated, time-consuming and painful than a divorce. Not only is it important to maintain your historical data and improve upon your existing processes, but the change management process also needs to be handled delicately in order to maintain your organization’s employee morale and public reputation.
Here are a few tips to use during your next software evaluation.
First, form a team. Most likely, the daily jobs of multiple people across your organization will be affected by the software you choose, so why have a single person make the decision for the whole organization? Form a team consisting of your staff from multiple levels and departments of your organization, trusted advisors, such as outside professionals and consultants, and selected clients (if they will also be using the software). Each person will bring a different perspective to the group as they consider how the new software will affect their specific responsibilities.
Second, create a prioritized wish-list. Have each person create a list of the functions they would like to see in the chosen software. Consider this a brainstorming exercise, so nothing is too great or too small to include on the list. Your team should choose a prioritization method and assign a ranking to each item on the compiled list, such as “nice-to-have”, “must-have”, etc. This prioritized list can be your scorecard during the evaluation process.
Third, evaluate various software options and narrow the possibilities. Take the necessary time to evaluate multiple software options using the scorecard you developed. Consider both out-of-the-box software and custom software options. Each person on the team should score the software in the areas listed on the scorecard.
Fourth, investigate thoroughly. From the cumulative scores, narrow your selection to the top 3 candidates and have more in-depth conversations with their sales, integration and technical experts, ask for demos or an evaluation period of the software and interview other companies who use their software.
The cumulative scores established in this process can be a large factor when determining the final decision, however, other factors should be considered as well, such as initial cost, customizations (if possible/necessary), future maintenance and support costs, hardware requirements, interviews from the software vendor’s current customers and overall integration time.
In order to avoid the pitfalls from choosing an inadequate software and the lasting impact it can have on your organization, it is important that all team members maintain open and honest communication throughout this process. Not only will that create a more supported decision, but it will ease the change management process as the software is integrated into the rest of your organization.