IT directors have many demands upon their time and, while the rush to get projects moving can occasionally lead to key issues being overlooked, making time to ensure that all the critical factors have been fully considered before signing the contract can save pain at a later date.
To help ease this process, here follows a few suggestions of questions that might be asked of all parties involved in the selection process, including not only the vendor, but also their business’s executive and internal staff, consultants, and systems integrators (SIs), amongst other influencers.
1. Technology architecture
How does this new solution fit within our current architecture? Will it be supportive and sustainable? Have we chosen it because it fits or because it is the best technology available?
Have we set realistic goals for implementation based on our current technology or on our business goals? How do we know that the implementation will fit our needs, or is the decision based purely on costs?
Will the solution and vendor be able to support our long term growth and plans? Are they sufficiently flexible and agile to move and grow with our business?
4. Best of breed
Have we carried out due diligence to the fact that we are not just selecting a vendor/technology based on our current architecture, but have thought out of the box and assessed Best of Breed to ensure that we are getting the right solution? Have we considered, for example, whether a big suite vendor’s solution is necessarily the most appropriate for our objectives?
5. Functional fit
Have we verified that the system actually works for our users and processes?
6. Systems integrators
Have we managed the SI activity to our best interests? Do their proposed solutions meet all of our objectives? Are they the Best of Breed, reliable and sustainable? Might there be ulterior motives behind their recommendations?
Is the decision based on our short or long term business goals? Have we considered the cost implications of choosing the wrong vendor?
Is the vendor a long term partner who is going to support our business goals and profitability, now and in the future, or might they just walk away after implementation? Does the vendor have specific domain expertise that can add value to the implementation?
9. Selection process
Despite having followed a thorough vendor selection process, have the criteria that informed this process changed since our original proposal?
10. Customer references
Has the vendor been able to provide relevant and successful references in our space? Have we established that the vendor credentials fit our requirements?
These questions, while not exhaustive, could form part of a fully strategic approach to any major technology purchase. Due consideration by all concerned parties to key issues of cost, timeliness, suitability and sustainability, should help to ensure that the company is fully future-proofed against the challenges that may lay ahead.