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Lorne Goloff, vice president of selection services with Technology Evaluation Centers, offers some tips on how companies can undertake a successful selection process - and ensure proper follow-up as well.
Many software projects fail because of "a lack of structured process driving the selection activity," Goloff says. Companies tend to underestimate the importance of process, beginning with a precise definition of one's software needs. It starts at the executive level, which must initiate clear communications throughout the company. Senior people need to assemble a decision team that consists of representatives from all relevant parts of the organization. In short, says Goloff, there must be "a clear understanding of what's happening."
Narrowing down the field of vendors can be a challenge. There are no shortcuts to a proper evaluation of needs, which is essential to making the right choice, Goloff says. By involving the whole company in the process, executives can avoid conflict over who should be making the ultimate decision.
Goloff doesn't view the question of enterprise versus best-of-breed software as a controversial issue. "We see it as an option," he says. "Every evaluation project should enable a decision between those. The reality is that today, a typical organization will run multiple applications." Every choice involves the need to integrate systems with existing hardware and software platforms.
Goloff recommends the use of what he calls a "descriptive demonstration" to enable systems integration. The buyer needs to present vendors with a detailed script, which includes all critical factors and core processes involved in the implementation. The responses can be summarized in a score which indicates which vendor can deliver the best support to the buying organization. Included in that report will be each vendor's history of success with similar companies and industries, along with how well it provided maintenance and after-sales support. Such data, says Goloff, provides "a solid foundation from which a successful implementation will flourish."
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