Brian Sommer has an excellent round-up of resources dedicated to helping ERP software buyers navigate the software selection process. Although the focus is on ERP, the issues are applicable to any major enterprise software purchase. From his article:
- Selections are a technical, functional, human and political process. Selection efforts that only focus on the technical or functional aspects are doomed. If the selection doesn’t address the human and political aspects, it is a waste of time and money.
- Selections are quite costly. Don’t underestimate the time and money to bring all of the organization into the buying process. There’s a reason that large ERP deals often have 10-18 month sales cycles. Everyone, it seems, has a stake in these choices.
- Selections are often determined by top executives without the use of tools like those above. They look at the quality management programs in use by the different vendors. They look at the quality of the senior management teams at the different vendors. And, far too often, they look at what their competitors are using and want to ensure they maintain competitive parity (not advantage).
- Selections do not have to be logical. Lots of top executives have made irrational decisions (at least to many of us, these are irrational) re: ERP choices but their votes count more that others.
All too often, software evaluations are based on incomplete criteria, leading to a poor fit that doesn’t fully address the organization’s needs. For example, it’s easy to perform a technical evaluation, and not look closely enough at the user requirements or political environment into which the software must operate.
Many of the failures described in this blog result from poor vendor and software selection, and could have been avoided with a more thorough process. Brian’s article is a must-read if you are considering a major software purchase.