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Software Vendor Selection: Uncovering the Obvious Requires Avoiding Common Pitfalls

So, you want to select a new piece of software for your organization. If you already have a tool in mind, have you considered the nuances of how the tool will tie into your organization’s processes? You can save substantial time and money in the long run by being methodical in your efforts to select software that is the right fit for your organization’s overall goals and supports your processes.

Using a vendor-selection framework can help your organization determine this fit and avoid unnecessary long-term costs and effort. The Jabian Vendor Selection Framework is comprised of five phases: Selection Requirements, Engagement Preparation, Engagement Management, Selection Analysis, and Selection Decisions. Typically, these phases encompass a standard RFP process, but when selecting a vendor for a software tool, you are in the unique position to use software demos to evaluate its fit in your organization. These steps ensure vendor evaluations tie back to your organization’s processes and goals, removing emotional or purely cost-based decision making.

There are clear risks to not performing each step in the process. Let’s dive into the details of how to avoid some common pitfalls and prevent these risks.

Phase 1 Selection Requirements

Defining stakeholders, responsibilities, and overall goals to initiate process flows and requirements

Phase 2Engagement Preparation

Selecting vendors for demos and establishing a structure for presentation and evaluation

Phase 3Engagement Management

Coordinating vendor demos and their respective evaluations

Phase 4Selection Analysis

Consolidating stakeholder responses and performing careful analysis on goal alignment

Phase 5Selection Decisions

Determining top contenders and making choices on next steps

If you don’t tie your vendor selection analysis back to organizational goals, you risk selecting a vendor that can’t get you there.

If you complete all five steps of this vendor selection framework, adjusting to include demos, you will successfully avoid common pitfalls of software vendor selection. You will have traceable requirements, developed with assistance from the right stakeholders engaged at the right time. Your short list of possible vendors will be selected based on a methodical assessment of key criteria. By the time you reach out to vendors and coordinate demos to evaluate the nuances of their capabilities, you will have all the documentation you need for a fruitful evaluation. When you analyze demo evaluations against all of your requirements, you will be able to see alignment of the pros and cons of each shortlisted vendor against weighted goals. Recommending top contenders will be straightforward. And with all of the data to support your case, you can be confident in your decision.

Sources

  1. As outlined by Tom Osborn in The Key Tenents of Business and Process Analysis, from the Spring Jabian Journal 2014: “A key tenent of business and process analysis is casting a wide net, but determining when to bring in stakeholders” … “There is a balance of frustration on churn vs early involvement giving context / why to decisions on requirements.”
  2. Antonia Ciccolo and Fred Jewell, Fall 2013 Jabian Journal, Alignment: Five Things You Need to Get Right Before You Start (Anything)
  3. As discussed in the article Process Analysis: The Foundation of Business Analysis, by Brian Betkowski in the Spring 2013 Jabian Journal, originating requirements with process flows helps with “completeness, planning accuracy, predictability and repeatability, speed, reduced variability, reduced template dependency, fewer changes and defects, minimized missed expectations.”
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