Choosing the right solution for your business can be a daunting task given the number of software vendors on the market today. In addition, you will also need a trusted partner to help implement the chosen software, since vendors tend to develop a healthy ecosystem of partners rather than provide services themselves.
The selection process can often take as long, if not longer, than the implementation phase. Therefore, the simple advice is to start as early as possible and allow at least six months from research to selection.
Step 1: Requirements definition
This is your responsibility. Whether you conduct the exercise yourself or hire a third party consultancy, the needs of the business must be defined and written down. This will form the basis of the search criteria for a suitable solution and ultimately, the right vendor.
Step 2: Choose a list of potential suppliers
There is an abundance of information available online to help (and sometimes hinder) the list of suppliers that may offer a viable solution. Most businesses now refer to recognised industry commentators such as Gartner or Forrester to narrow down the list.
Step 3: Request For Information (RFI)
Depending on how many suppliers you choose to place on your list of potentials, you may decide to issue an RFI. Again, the contents of the RFI should reflect the business requirements definition, but also reach beyond this to establish other facts such as experience in your sector, references and reputation.
Step 4: Product Demonstration
Having received the RFI responses, you will mark each response and choose a short list of suppliers that you wish to invite to your premises to demonstrate their solutions. You have a choice of how you wish this to be conducted (a) simply ask for a vanilla demonstration or (b) provide sample data and ask for a demonstration based on your data.
Step 5: Proof of Concept (POC)
Once you narrow your list of potential suppliers to a short list (three at most), the best way to truly understand the solutions is to conduct a Proof of Concept (POC). This should be conducted on site without any prior work and should focus on a specific area of the overall solution that you believe will help you make the right decision. The goal of the POC is to find areas of differentiation between solutions.
Step 6: Scoping Workshop
An essential element to the overall project in terms of pricing and timelines is the implementation effort. To establish an accurate estimate requires a detailed scoping session with the key project team and stakeholders. The output of the scoping workshop will be a high-level project plan including resources, timelines and deliverables. This will form the basis of the implementation cost (both internal and external resources). A typical workshop requires 4-6 hours.
Step 7: Request for Proposal (RFP)
You may have gathered sufficient information at this stage, but often there are wider considerations that need to be embodied into a formal RFP. This may include; pricing, project plan, implementation approach, IT security, references and further due diligence information as required.
Step 8: The Business Case and Final Decision
Finally, you have gathered all the information and met each vendor and or business partner. You may have a clear winner or there may be further work to do. The business case you present to the stakeholders normally asks for a recommendation and one or two alternatives. You may decide to ask the shortlisted vendors to present their proposal themselves and allow the stakeholders to ask questions directly. Now its time to make the final decision.
How ICit helps clients make an informed selection decision
Having delivered over 400 projects and experienced countless selection processes, ICit is an experienced and highly capable business partner that works with clients throughout the selection process. We have strong relationships with the software vendors and can provide technical and commercial responses to the many questions that you may have.
Proof of Concept (POC)
Whilst all the stages are necessary for choosing a solution, the “make or break” stage is usually the POC. At ICit, we pride ourselves on our excellent product and domain knowledge providing clients with a highly personalised experience to match the business requirements defined upfront. Typical POCs take 1-2 days (no charge) and produce a working prototype model for your assessment.
We also offer Extended POCs (EPOCs) for clients that have a more challenging set of requirements and broader scope. We charge a nominal fee for EPOCs depending on the length of time required.
Therefore, regardless of the selection stage, we can engage with you and provide fast responses and meaningful solution proposals to help you make an informed decision, so you make the right investment choice for your business.