Making the final software decision

Here is an easy process to follow to help you decide.

Steps:

1. Gather all the information for each potential vendor and prepare a summary of the key criteria for each.

2. Bring your project team together to jointly review the information, the summaries, discuss the pros and cons of each of the potential vendor solutions.

3. Then, jointly rank each of the vendors against your key criteria.

Notes

(i) Software functionality. Clearly the most important criteria, so focus on your key functional requirements and where the solution(s) from each vendor, differ from each other.

(ii) Implementation. Even the best software will not work well, with a poor implementation. So you need to be very sure that you either have the skills, experience and resources on board, or can acquire these from the vendor, or other service providers, or by retraining existing employees.

(iii) ROI (return on investment) / TCO (total costs of ownership). Re-check both calculations for 7 year time scale, for each vendor - as each vendor solution may have different benefits as well as different costs.

(iv) Maintenance and support / SLA (Service Level Agreement). Be sure of what you are getting for your annual (or regular) payments, that it is appropriate and represents good value for money.

(v) Software technology. Should be forward looking technology and either match that of your business or heading where you are heading. However, some forward looking technologies may be closer to where you are heading than others. (Solutions or vendors using old technology should have been removed at the RFI stage).

(vi) The vendor. Their business strength, business and product direction, and how well you get on with the vendor are important. Equally, so is a process or arrangement to protect your investment in the software, should the vendor themselves be acquired or taken over by another organisation.

(vii) In this example, we've included 6 key criteria for the project as a whole. You may have more criteria and may also wish to use some form of weighting and scoring rather than simple ranking. If so, amend your table accordingly.