Selecting new software for an organization is a project. It requires leadership oversight, management commitment, and a broad range of personnel participation. But a thorough and thoughtful software selection process can help prevent troubles from arising during implementation, saving a company time and money.
The software selection process can be made much smoother if management employs the following best practices.
Communication from leadership to the project team needs to establish priorities and emphasize the importance of following a detailed selection process. It is the responsibility of management to ensure that all stakeholders are informed of the process and in agreement at each step along the way.
From the very start, a project code should be set up for team members to track the time they spend on the software selection project, allowing management to see exactly how much time is consumed before an implementation ever starts. Time tracking and time allocation improve the transparency of the effort. In the planning stage, it’s also important to consider other tasks that might compete with the project: month end closes, quarterly reporting, company meetings, other projects, and everyday tasks.
Participation and accountability are always keys to project success. Software selection is no different. Team members must show up at meetings, particularly vendor demonstrations. Learning about the vendors and their solutions is paramount. Likewise, showing your commitment to the vendor and valuing their time and effort is common courtesy, supports the negotiation process, and will promote a healthy partnership down the road.
Input and involvement from the entire team is necessary to ensure that the selection is objective. Objectivity requires the completion of requirements mapping and rating of the software leveraging templates and rating schema’s. Together, this information is evidence of a process-based selection effort where team members complete their assigned tasks with diligence and thought.
Finally, a software selection effort is a project that requires the same planning and scheduling as the implementation. Don’t underestimate the time commitment and level of scheduling necessary to ensure all stakeholders are able to participate. Don’t underestimate the number of potential vendors that may align with your business needs, and be sure to value their commitment and the time they invest into your selection project. In the end, you will be developing a partnership that, if done properly, will last many years.
Ask for Help
For most companies, the software selection process is infrequent. Ideally, new software remains in place many years after implementation, so you want to be sure you aren’t forced to settle as a result of a misguided software selection. Large companies often have the resources to hire a Third-party consultant to guide them through this process. This activity can range anywhere from $30k to $100k depending on the complexity and scope of the requirements. For most SMB’s out there, this cost is as much and often more than the cost associated with the solutions they might ultimately select. No need to fret, Roghnu has 10+ years’ experience in software selections, and we have all the tools you need to facilitate a top quality selection of your own. We can provide you access to these tools at no charge and with no commitment to us on your part. While there is a resource commitment from your side to facilitate a software selection, you shouldn’t be resigned to paying $30k and up for outside consultants to hold your hand through the process.