Don’t Make The Vendor Demo Your Software Evaluation – Lessons Learned

The following post will examine four mistakes that organizations make when evaluating enterprise business software.  When organizations look to evaluate software they often make the mistake of interviewing vendors as the software evaluation process itself.

Organizations make several mistakes when evaluating software.  The organization usually proceeds straight to the vendor demonstrations without a plan to get ramped up and educated within the space.  Often times at this point the functional and technical requirements have not been gathered and the correct business process mapping has not occurred.   There are several problems  with this approach.

The first problem, is that organizations usually start with too many vendors to start the evaluation.   This rapidly becomes an exercise in administration.  The stakeholder often tasked to select the vendors usually is also the project manager.  This person must select the vendors on the long list, collect all the research necessary to understand the intricacies of features/functions, understand their own requirements, educate  theirself,   educate the rest of the project team,  manage all the questions, answers and content provided by the vendors. managing and keeping the data collected becomes difficult as there is much to sort through. Another complexity is that many software applications have similar or the same features making differentiation between solutions even more difficult.

The second problem with inviting vendors for demonstrations of their software is that without a set demonstration script for the vendors each will have their own agenda. Each vendor is not given the same chance to be evaluated on the same criteria.  Vendors will often show the customer all the functions and cool features their software is capable of providing while not solving the original business problem.

A third problem is that the features often shown during a vendor demo become the actual evaluation criteria for your company’s new enterprise software system, which often changes by vendor and can again lead to selecting the incorrect system.  This introduces additional project scope,  buying unnecessary functionality and wasting company money.  These wanderings off of original intent can cause a company a non-sufficient roi and a longer time to realize the benefits that the new system can bring.  This lack of diligence may actually impede business growth by tying up too much money in the original system selection.

A forth problem is strategic fit.  It is often overlooked when going through rapid and many vendor demonstrations.  Organizations can easily get caught up with the the luxuries of the software which may sometimes be overkill for your company which leads to over buying.   The organization might not realize the extra resources that the company will be liable for during and after the implementation.  The scope of the implementation itself can overwhelm a smaller organization which can lead to extra spending on consultants to complete the project.

These are four points that can be mitigated by your organization if you do not jump straight to vendor demonstrations when proceeding with a full software evaluation.  If you are considering evaluating any type of enterprise software give us a call.  Use the Tru-Eval method to impartially evaluate and rank any type of enterprise software.  See for details or follow us on twitter @eval_source

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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