The nightmare of buying enterprise software

Enterprise software is an easy target for criticism: it's expensive to buy, hard to implement, and often performs decidedly un-sexy functions like back office accounting. This complexity can make enterprise software a nightmare to purchase.

The nightmare of buying enterprise software

Enterprise software is an easy target for criticism: it's expensive to buy, hard to implement, and often performs decidedly un-sexy functions like back office accounting. This complexity can make enterprise software a nightmare to purchase.

Industry consultant and analyst, Alan Wilensky, managed to distill his impressions of the enterprise software sales and purchase process into a single sentence:

Big, heavy enterprise software, ill matched to the strategic mission, integrated, installed, and manhandled by a VAR's enterprise sales team of butchers.

Let's unpack this indictment:

Big, heavy enterprise software. Big software systems, by their nature, are complicated. In fairness, this complexity often arises from the large-scale processes such software automates. Still, it's all relative: some sales people push big solutions onto folks with small problems, leading to failed projects.

Ill-matched to the strategic mission. Combine a conniving sales person with an inexperienced customer and you get failure. Too often, buyers don't understand the fit between their own needs and the software they're considering. Sadly, some unscrupulous advisers and consultants push the wrong solutions onto these unsuspecting customers.

Integrated, installed, and manhandled. Depending on the statistics you choose, 30%-70% of projects fail in some important way: over-budget, late, or require scope cutbacks to meet cost or schedule goals. Many of these failures could be avoided with more careful planning, oversight, and project management by the consultants.

VAR's enterprise sales team of butchers. Hoping to "move product" quickly, some consultants and resellers suggest solutions based on a casual or superficial analysis of the customer's needs. When the shortcomings become clear, often during the implementation, costs rise as mid-stream corrections must be developed.

Alan's accusations should absolutely not be generalized to every software vendor and consultant; sleazy people exist in all industries and software is no exception. Still, the complaints are rooted in scenarios observed too frequently across the enterprise software landscape.

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