- Category:Thought Leadership
The cloud has changed the way we should think about purchasing enterprise applications. That means your evaluation and selection approach also needs to adapt.
The days of defining thousands of detailed requirements to be fed into a lengthy RFP is outdated – business today evolves too quickly for a point-in-time set of requirements to hold much merit.
The flexibility of Cloud-based Software-as-a-Service applications allow businesses to far more easily adopt changes in processes and business models than the monolithic enterprise applications of the early 2000’s. Organisations today want to rent software off-the-shelf, with pre-configured yet modifiable business processes provided out of the box.
This does not necessarily make the evaluation and selection process a lot easier, however it does allow for it to be accelerated. As always – proper planning is key.
Here are the key considerations and steps to help you get make a thorough yet timely decision.
Lead with Strategy
Your strategic direction needs to come before tactical imperatives. There is no quicker way to create a poorly integrated and disjointed suite of enterprise applications than allow the needs of right now to overshadow the needs of tomorrow.
Always consider the overall impact on your business application landscape when looking to replace or uplift your systems – and a well thought out strategy to execute against will save you a headache down the road. Get buy in on the strategic direction from relevant senior executives and ensure you have a committed business sponsor.
Do your research
Understand the market and explore your options. There are many resources to help guide you, including analyst reports (Gartner, Forrester etc.) and peer-to-peer reviews. However, the most important research tool is talking to others in your industry.
Ask what happens when things go wrong because they will go wrong at some point. Look for alignment to your industry, geographic alignment for support and deployment, a strong product roadmap for future releases, and ensure similar sized companies have proven value with a successful deployment.
Your research should not be external only – now is the time to start taking a good look at your organisation and the needs – look for areas of complexity, where you need to focus effort, and document some business scenarios you would like to see demonstrated.
Show me, don’t tell me
Vendors responding to 1000’s of lines of requirements and telling you on paper how their solution meets your needs has its place (think country specific reporting requirements, payroll localisation etc.), but a well-defined set of software demonstration scenarios speaks a thousand lines of requirements.
Think differently about you assess the software’s suitability – nowadays, most tiers 1 and 2 enterprise applications can meet the needs of many organisations. Focus less on if the system can cater for your needs, and more on how tasks are executed in the in the system. Document what you would like to see, and get it demonstrated. List out what the system needs to do and ask vendors to demonstrate that.
Remember – the intent should be for your business to adopt these pre-configured processes out of the box, and modify only if necessary – does the product fit your future needs and will it lead to operational efficiencies?
Ability to execute is key
How the solution is implemented (and by who) is arguably more important than the solution itself. Finding a piece of technology that ticks all the boxes and provides business value on paper is only part of the picture –the hard work put into finding the best solution will be rendered useless if the implementation fails.
During your product assessment, ensure there is a team with proven experience in delivering similar projects, enabled by dedicated project staff who know your organisation. Look to supplement internal gaps in capability and capacity with external talent who have proven their ability to execute previous programs of work in a similar industry, in the same geography, and on the same platform!
Negotiation & Investment
Throughout your evaluation and selection process, keep it competitive and don’t forget to ask vendors what sort of innovative pricing models might be on offer. Total Cost of Ownership is always key, but it should be weighed against other considerations including functional and technical fit, SLAs, and the product roadmap (just to name a few!).
Your investment decision should be demonstrated and argued in a written business case, detailing implementation strategy, benefits, risks and mitigations, and an investment profile.
Be sure to perform relevant due diligence and assurance throughout – an independent review of any legal contracts and outcomes of your evaluation and selection process will ensure the final recommendation is backed up by a bullet-proof business case prior to any final decisions.
Being shaping the change journey now
Engage the people who will be using the new system early – don’t make a decision behind closed doors, get those with a vested interest involved to start the buy-in process. For longer project implementation and change management success, make sure you define what success will look like for everyone the system will impact, including management, those who will implement it and critically those who will use it.
Get in touch
Evaluating and selecting new enterprise applications across your organisation can be a significant task – but it does not have to be drawn out. Contact Churchill today to discuss how we can support and accelerate your evaluation and selection approach.