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At this point in your journey to new software, you’ve chosen your consultant and created a project plan.

Here in step three of the process, you’ll define your software requirements and qualify potential vendors.

At the end of this phase, you’ll have all the information you need to send requests for a proposal (RFPs) to selected vendors.

As with all parts of the process communicating with your stakeholders and senior management and getting their buy-in are the keys to success.

 

Define the requirements of the new system

This is the time to think big. Cast a wide net when thinking about the requirements the software needs to satisfy.

Collect and write what you expect from your software. What challenges must it help you overcome? What processes should it streamline?

Do this and you won’t have to deal with a system that isn’t a good fit or won’t grow with your company.

As we said in part 2 of this series, involve the relevant stakeholders. Ask them what they need, what they want and what they’d like from the new system.

Ask what would make their lives easier or solve a problem they’re struggling with.

Score each requirement from 1 to 4, with 4 indicating the requirement is ‘Mandatory.’

The goal here is to capture every need. You want to make sure that the new system works with your business processes.

Include your IT department as you write down your requirements. Can they support the solution? Do they think it should be on premise or in the cloud?

Knowing these requirements, combined with cost and other factors, will lead you to the best possible solution.

How to define your software requirements

Here are three techniques you can use to gather requirements, each depending on purpose and audience:

Interview technique: This is a conversation with one or more stakeholders to obtain or validate their needs and requirements.

The interview may also involve a Q&A session to discover:

      • Discrepancies between needs
      • The high-level tech requirements derived from those needs
      • The detailed requirements of the solution

Interviews make it easier to get stakeholder contribution, feedback and approval.

Joint Application Development (JAD): This is a process of collaborative workshops where you, stakeholders, and systems analysts identify needs and requirements. It’s led by someone from the software provider. They will organize and manage the JAD sessions, and encourage client participation.

Other members of the JAD team usually include:

      • The project’s executive sponsor. This will be someone from your company who sets the vision for the project and makes decisions about project direction and activities.
      • Users. These are the people who will be using the software. They are the main focus of the JAD sessions.
      • IT staff. They provide technical advice and shape the business requirements. Because they understand the technological ecosystem in which the software solution must work, they are an invaluable part of this process.
      • Observers. Their only job is to watch and learn. Observers don’t offer any input during JAD sessions.
      • Scribe. This person will record the key points of the sessions. They ensure the team has a working document on the progress that’s been made and the action items.

Survey method: In this method, an electronic or paper-based list of questions is given to the stakeholders so they can record their needs or requirements.

Some techniques work better for gathering requirements from stakeholders. Others are better for validating the list of requirements with them.

Business acceptance of requirements

At this point, you’ve identified all the requirements. The next step is to present the list to your company’s leadership team for review and approval.

Once the requirements are approved, you’re ready for the next step: Finding the vendors and solutions that are good candidates for evaluation.

How to qualify software vendors

With the list of requirements approved, you’re ready to send it to potential vendors.

Typically, you’ll send the list by email. Ask vendors whether or not they offer a solution that can meet the business requirements.

Ask them to write YES next to each requirement their solution meets, and NO next to those requirements their solution doesn’t support.

Their responses will narrow down your list of vendors. Invite those that meet most requirements to send a request for proposal (RFP).

Business acceptance of vendors

After receiving and analyzing the responses, your software selection team will present the list of selected vendors to the management team and the key stakeholders. At this point you’re looking for their feedback and approval.

For transparency, present the original list of vendors that you contacted and include their responses.

Ideally, you want to have seven or eight vendors participating with an RFP.

 

At Roghnu we have a team of experts who will help with:

    • Gathering business requirements
    • Identifying potential vendors of the solution

Contact us so we can work with you on the process of selecting the best software solution for your company.

In the next installment of our Software Selection Series, we’ll help you understand the process of sourcing. You’ll see how to create the Request for Proposal (RFP) and evaluate the proposals.

Just joining us? Here are the first two steps in this series:

Step 1: Choose Your Consultant

Step 2: Start the Project