Evaluating and implementing software is an organizational change that can positively (or negatively) impact the masses. But failing to adhere to a complete process will result in wasted time, discord and tension, and decreased production. And, you’ll have to do it all over again when you are bigger, when it will surely hurt a lot more.
Stage 1: Investigating and Project Planning
Before beginning to evaluate software solutions a few questions need to be answered namely around defining the pain, must-have requirements, budget, stakeholders, and framing the whole process. Some of the questions you’ll want to think about are:
Who will be affected by this change?
What is the current process the team is using? Where are the breakdowns/bottlenecks?
Who needs to be involved in the evaluation? Will they commit to giving their time and supporting the rollout of the selected solution?
Who will own the roll out (implementation, training, ongoing support)?
YES. There is a lot to think about, and the above is an abbreviated list. Only after you have answered all the planning questions can you properly begin to evaluate the software and ensure the proper selection and smooth rollout.
Stage 2: Evaluating Vendors
Now the not so fun part--evaluating lots of options and giving the stiff arm to the undesirables… There will be many companies out there claiming they can solve your specific pain points. In order to whittle down to a shortlist of contenders, consider integration capabilities, end user experience, vendor and buyer responsibilities during and after implementation, and some of the following:
How will you find your list of potential vendors?
On what criteria is the evaluation based?
- Does the selected vendor have necessary workflows and processes to capture our must-haves? Do we need to re-evaluate what our must-haves are?
What is their product roadmap? Will they grow with you or will you need to replace them?
Step 3: Preparing for Implementation
So, you've whittled the list down and selected your ideal solution, one that meets your requirements AND has the best ROI. Before you launch into implementation, consider the following questions to ensure a smooth rollout:
Who is motivated to get this project done? Is it top-down or bottom-up?
Are key stakeholders in each affected department identified, bought into the plan, understand their roles, AND can commit the time?
Who owns the project plan? What are the key milestones? Has the vendor confirmed its feasibility?
What does success look like for us in 3, 6 and 12 months? How will ROI and effectiveness be calculated?
How will the end users be trained and supported?
If you've got clear answers to these questions, move forward feeling confident about your decision. You are ready to now execute on the plan, which is no small feat and probably the hardest of all.