The software selection process, especially when purchasing complex and expensive software requires time, collaboration and attention to detail. Selecting software generally is done by multiple parties within an organization, all who have varied requirements for the software being procured.
There are usually dozens, if not hundreds, of vendors who fall into the software category you’re evaluating. You have to build and manage relationships with dozens of people during the selection timeline. Ultimately, you generally have to sign a long-term contract for a significant amount of your money to acquire the software you desire. It’s a painstaking process with unexpected challenges aplenty.
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Software Selection Best Practices
Since the software selection process is such a critical component to IT procurement teams and organizations in general, following best practices is essential to make sure you don’t end up investing in software that becomes shelfware.
To start, you want to define your software selection criteria, building a checklist to make sure you cover the core features and functionality required for your business goals. You’ll be inviting stakeholders to provide their input into these requirements.
Once the requirements have been defined, you’ll want to create a list of vendors who most closely fulfill the majority (if not all) of your requirements. From this list, you’ll execute requests for information and proposals. As these documents are returned, you’ll assess the responses to see who fits your needs and who can be disqualified from the selection project.
Now that you have a shortlist of possible vendors, you’ll want to proceed with demos/trials, proof of concepts or other types of pilot programs. Further, do your due diligence on the health, longevity and roadmaps for the vendors you engage with.
Lastly, you’ll want to negotiate terms with the vendors you most prefer, ultimately selecting the vendor that best matches your requirements, which often includes budget constraints. Once terms have been agreed upon, you’ve got a new software in your technology stack – use it wisely.
Managing the Software Selection Process
Software Selection Criteria and Checklist
As part of the process, you define your selection criteria/requirements. Depending on the category of software being researched, you’ll have a unique criteria and checklist of features and functionality. Historically, this has been done through spreadsheets and is often referred to as a requirements gathering document. However, as you continue through this article you’ll discover an alternative.
Software Selection Templates
A better way to manage your software selection process is to use pre-existing templates that outline all of the key requirements for any particular software category. For example, SelectHub has prepared a large library of software selection templates across a variety of categories including BI, ERP, CRM, Marketing Automation and more.
Software Selection Tools
While using a software selection template is an excellent place to make improvements in your process, ideally you and your organization would benefit from using a software selection tool to manage the entire practice.
As we outlined in the software selection best practices section, you are going to go through requirements gathering, vendor research, RFx events, demo/trial/proof of concept and more, prior to selecting a specific software.
Using a software selection tool will benefit your organization in 2 key ways:
- Save up to 50% of the time generally spent in the software selection lifecycle
- Prevent selecting the wrong technology for your business needs, saving your organization significant amounts of money
Traditionally a mess of spreadsheets, word docs and emails have been the primary method of managing the software selection process. Now, the software selection tools available (cough, SelectHub) make your job substantially easier. These tools simplify selecting any type of software. Your team can collaborate on requirements gathering, evaluate vendors available per software category, set-up/manage Request for Information/Proposal and the other remaining steps in the software selection process.
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