An objective selection process for software solutions has changed with cloud technology, yet a thoughtful evaluation criteria and selection process remains vital to avoid negative business impacts..
An effective revenue architecture takes advantage of a range of leading marketing automation and sales enablement technology solutions. Cloud solutions make some traditional evaluation factors – like technology infrastructure management and application maintenance – less important in selection, yet functional and vendor considerations remain critical. It is easy to instantly provision cloud solutions and free trial offers often lead to snap decisions. However, a lot of operational disruptions occur from the selecting the wrong solution. Despite being easy to turn on and off from a technical and economic standpoint, the operational impact to a business from migration of data along with organizational disruptions is significant.
4 Criteria for Software and Solution Selection
- Business Assessment – How well does the solution really meet our functional needs?
- Feature alignment, process alignment, likelihood of user adoption, fit with related systems and overall software architecture, integrations and APIs, usability, user support resources, regulatory compliance and security, potential for competitive differentiation, data security and migration, data access, analytics, administration, operational cost reduction.
- Vendor Assessment – Is the vendor positioned for long-term product commitment and stability?
- Architecture compliance, interoperability, functionality range and plans, process support, support, training and documentation, likely acquisition and impact, financial stability, culture and style.
- Technical Assessment – How well built is the technology and how easy is it to manage?
- Architecture compliance, interoperability, scalability, modularity, flexibility, supportability, reliability, technical certainty, infrastructure certainty, skills and training
- Contractual Assessment – Are the pricing options and contract terms aligned with business needs and volumes?
- pricing tiers, usage levels, product support costs, terms and conditions, time commitments, access to data, escrow options.
6-Steps for Objective Solution Selection
The approach you can use is quite straight forward. We facilitate this process with clients in their selection of marketing and sales technology – which along with brand, media, process and organization makes up and effective ‘revenue system’:
1. Plan and Initiate
- Gain a deep understanding of your business and the factors that drive the decision
- Review business and functional requirements at a high level and get input from business areas including Finance, IT, Sales & Marketing, Customer Care, Contracts & Purchasing.
2. Develop a Long List of potential suppliers
- Form the ‘long list’ of potential solutions from a basic understanding of needs.
- Use the feature sets of the leading solutions to capture a long list of requirements and criteria for selection
3. Refine Requirements
- Review needs across each of the business area, as well as considering other requirements (e.g. architectural, commercial) Tailor the criteria list above.
- Agree the priority of requirements using the MoSCoW method (Must, Should, Could, Wont)
- Identify minimum functionality and critical items as a ‘Must’
4. Develop a Short List
- Using the ‘Must’ criteria, rapidly focus down the long list to the top 2-4 that have the best potential for a long term fit
- Use this short list for a more detailed evaluations
5. Evaluate Solutions
- Build a scorecard matrix with the Must and Should requirements mapped to the short list vendor solutions
- Schedule vendor demonstrations and consider and have the vendor demonstrate how they use the technology internally
- Present suppliers with Business Scenarios
- Consider supplier and reference site visits and an RFQ or RFP process as situations require
6. Make Selection, Negotiate and Contract
- Use all the criteria and the experience of the evaluation including qualitative insights from the process a (e.g. quality of proposal, demonstration and willingness to address business needs)
- Align around the top selection and negotiate a contract that works for your business (depending on the solution, this can be an extended process or a a simple selection)
- Kick off implementation preparation.