The rapidly changing business environment has caused software evaluation to evolve. However, many of the same principles and processes are still staples of a proper software evaluation process. The same solid methodology that includes people, technology, processes and research still hold true.
Our research and clients indicate that software evaluation is changing. The components that were previously evaluated have somewhat changed due to cloud, SaaS, IaaS, PaaS and SOA and Web 2.0 technologies. These technologies have introduced new evaluation categories that have lead to more confusion around software evaluation. Companies are determining their own TCO and ROI which has shifted once traditional areas to different priorities within the software selection process.
Organizations are continuing to evaluate features and functions as before but as many companies have learned the hard way this is not the end all and be all to evaluating software. Companies are now considering new areas such as business agility, business process management, vertical expertise, integration/globalization and more of focus on the strategic technology fit.
Business Agility is the ability of the software to quickly adapt to changing business conditions and processes without much vendor engagement. Many new systems are incorporating richer user interfaces and easier configuration options to enable the customer to do most of the changes themselves. Since many systems are on par with respect to feature/functions self-configuration is heavily being considered within the evaluation process.
Business process management is now a unifying link that can reside inside or outside the software in which you are evaluating. The business process engines contained within the software often allows integration and unification of disparate systems. This often is the method that software vendors use to combine functionalities and collaborate their own different softwares. These new business process engines allow for decision making capabilities, offer BI/EPM visibilities, collaborations, to define workflows, dataflows, creation of approval triggers, allows changes to be tested without disruption to current process through data modelling and can facilitate sharing information upstream and downstream to suppliers and partners are main evaluation criteria with business process management now; a major shift from before.
Vertical expertise is now given a higher priority than before. Organizations now realize that software is pretty much equivalent in functionality and use the expertise of the vendor as a differentiation point to select the appropriate vendor. Software vendors that vertical specific solutions for a specific applications are now compared to as a true apples to apples comparison. Organizations sometimes mistakenly compare a vertical specific solution to the base application which is often more general in nature. The ability for the vendor to distinguish themselves within a vertical may prove beneficial to the evaluating organization to show the company that the vendor understands their business and consequently their support requirements.
SaaS and cloud system applications that include, SOA, IaaS and PaaS have thrown organizations for a loop as now they must evaluate this portion of the application more closely as to align the technology with their business strategy. Integration using the cloud, Web 2.0 technologies, web services, browser--based applications, cloud storage/backup/administration options are now more closely considered with a more significant weighting within the overall evaluation process. It is often these technologies mentioned above that define the globalization factors as well since more companies have subsidiaries, two --tier ERP strategies and must consider globalization, connectivity and time zone issues to continue to support its customers effectively. Again this has become a major shifting point in the software selection process along with the appropriate weighting when scoring the evaluation process.
As illustrated many factors have changed the software evaluation landscape such business agility, business process management, vertical expertise, integration/globalization and strategic technological fit have changed from previous software evaluation processes. These factors now are more heavily weighted and can dramatically influence the outcome of your software evaluation. This is approximately the 30 percent of differentiation that each vendor must illustrate to win the business.
Many pitfalls, best practices, lessons learned and practical unbiased software evaluation buying advice is offered in our free eBook -- Enterprise Software Evaluation Toolkit -- learn what to do and not to do http://tinyurl.com/3mmbmn4 which can be downloaded here.
Eval-Source is a consulting firm that provides enterprise software selection and strategic technology consulting services for organizations. Our consulting practices encompass cloud and on-premise software evaluation services, ERP, Supply Chain strategy, social media and technology consulting. Eval-Source is an industry leader in the analysis of software technology and our thought leadership has placed us in the elite of consulting/analyst firms. What sets us apart is our unbiased best in class consulting services that provide our clients with value, direction and success in selection, planning and infrastructure planning of their technology systems.