10 Best Practices for Software Selection from Software Advice

Industry Week recently published 10 Best Practices for Software Selection from Software Advice that were pretty good. In brief, they were:

  • Take Ownership of Selection Process

    Don’t delegate to a subordinate or IT. It’s your process that you’re trying to automate and improve, so make sure you get the software that you need.

  • Determine Your Needs

    Know exactly what you need before you even issue the RFP. As I previously wrote, you don’t want to fall for a fliggle-flaggle-floogle sales pitch.

  • Get the Right Software for Your Industry

    While there are many products out there, some will be tailored to specific verticals. If it’s tailored to yours, it could be a good thing. But if you’re an automotive component manufacturer and it’s tailored for a bottler, it might not be the right software for you.

  • Integrate the Enterprise over Time

    Buying a suite that integrates the majority of your back office functions under one umbrella might be the right decision, but the last thing you should do is a big bang implementation — unless, of course you want your operation to go out with a big bang. Remember Foxmeyer? They were a 5 Billion Dollar company until they tried to do a big bang update of all their hardware and software systems, which went up in a bang that resulted in Chapter 11 and a fire-sale to their arch rival for a mere 80 Million.

  • Assess Ease-of-use Carefully

    Even if the system does everything you ever wished for, it’s not a good investment if it’s hard to use, because it will just end up being bypassed. It’s much better to have an 80% solution that’s easy and pleasant to use than a 100% solution that requires a team of PhDs and magicians.

  • Ensure Strong Support and Maintenance

    There’s no such thing as bug free software. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Some software will be more bug-free than others, but all systems go down eventually. Make sure the vendor offers great support, because you will need it.

  • Pay Close Attention to Vendor Viability

    This doesn’t mean that you should buy from the biggest, because even the mighty can fail. It just means the company should be stable with a sizeable customer base that can support it for years to come.

  • Be Realistic About Your Budget

    If you only have 200K, don’t look at software in the 1M range. Don’t even look at software in the 500K range. Focus on finding a solution you can afford, even if it’s not perfect. If you can find a point solution for 100K that has a 5X ROI, then you’ll have a 500K budget next year to fill in the gaps.

  • Understand your Deployment Options

    If you don’t have a solid IT department, or they’re overworked, you probably should not be looking at on-premise. Similarly, if corporate policies prohibit certain data from leaving your four walls, you might be forced into an on-premise solution.

  • Plan your platform technology needs

    Understand your current platform and the options you are able to support. If you’re a Microsoft Shop, you should probably be looking at .Net solutions. Similarly, If you’re a Linux or Unix shop, a .Net solution should be immediately crossed off the list.

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