Thinking of Shortcutting the Technology Evaluation Process? Beware of the Risks!
The Nightmarish Process of Technology Evaluations
Every time we talk to CIOs, we learn a little more about the nightmarish process of software selection. So much so that it has inspired a few blog posts. We've heard some real humdingers. We won't name names or pass judgment, but we can confirm that the nightmares are prevalent amongst IT leaders, and all vertices are experiencing the same problems.
One client had two months to replace a solution that was 15 years old. Fear of choosing the wrong solution left them afraid to act on an evaluation, putting it off until the software retired because it was no longer readable due to its archaic format. Another client had previously spent over three years evaluating solutions, only to make the wrong choice, resulting in a user adoption rate of >60%.
How to Shortcut Technology Evaluations
There are many ways to shortcut the software evaluation process, and we've heard them all. From choosing an option that worked great for your peer's company, to getting wooed by a salesperson, all shortcuts have a similarly unhappy ending. The sheer volume of software solutions available can lead CIOs and Tech buyers to think they have no other option than to shortcut at least one part of the process. In 2018 business software review site G2 Crowd published listings of 34,727 software products across 745 vertical industries. Even the most niche SaaS product that fulfills every criteria or requirement is unlikely to find itself without stiff competition. So how do you find the one solution that's going to work best for your organization?
Technology Review Platforms
There are entire platforms dedicated to presenting SaaS software reviews, claiming to help you "find the best ERP" for your enterprise. Gartner, G2 Crowd, and Capterra can give you a good overview of the top-rated ERP vendors on the market, but keep in mind, vendors pay to get featured here, so bias does creep into the process. What works well for one vertical may not work for another - reviews are subjective opinions. These "Technology Review Platforms" are not "Technology Evaluation Platforms." Our data shows that on average, companies only evaluate 5% of their potential options. The only way you can genuinely find the solutions you need is to evaluate 100% of the relevant solutions available against your business needs, with adequate buy-in and contribution from relevant stakeholders.
Shortcutting the process and making the wrong choice will cost you in the long run. Here, we've rounded up a selection of the different ways our clients have told us they have found technology solutions in the past, and the risks associated with each method.
1. Choose a solution off the shelf, or look at as many solutions as your bandwidth allows
Pros: Get to a solution faster, save upfront.
Risks: The solution does not meet the company's needs, low user adoption due to no stakeholder buy-in, the solution does not integrate with other technologies, bias drives the decision-making process.
2. Choose a solution from a 'quadrant' or online reviews.
Pros: Get to a solution faster, saving money upfront, If it goes wrong, you can blame the website.
Risks: The solution does not meet the unique needs of the company and other stakeholders, low user adoption due to no stakeholder buy-in, the solution does not integrate with other technologies, bias drives the decision-making process.
3. Choose a solution based on peer recommendations/online reviews.
Pros: Get to a solution faster, saving money upfront. Low Personal effort required
Risks: Peers had different needs, the solution does not meet the needs of the company and other stakeholders, Low user adoption due to no stakeholder buy-in, the solution does not integrate with other technologies, bias drives the decision making process, the solution is best for your peer's needs but not your company's needs.
4. Choose a solution because the vendor took you to dinner and got you great seats at the sports game.
Pros: Get to a solution faster, saving money upfront. Personal win because you had fun at the sports game.
Risks: Bias drives the decision making process, the solution is best for your competitor’s needs but not yours. Solution does not meet the needs of the company and relevant stakeholders, low user adoption due to no stakeholder buy-in, the solution does not integrate with other technologies.
5. Choose a solution by going through the correct technology evaluation process.
Pros: All stakeholders had buy-in and have collaborated on requirements, the best solution has been found based on the business needs, high user adoption due to stakeholder buy-in, the solution integrates with other technologies, due diligence reporting available decision-making process, the solution is best for the company.
Risks: High risk of human error in using spreadsheets, a small percentage of potential vendors evaluated, the time-consuming process has a very high resource cost, the process took two years instead of the six months the vendor promised.
6. Choose a solution through an IT consultant or agency.
Pros - Relevant stakeholders get buy-in and can collaborate on requirements, business needs lead the evaluation process, stakeholder buy-in results in high user adoption, the solution chosen integrates with other technologies, due diligence reporting available decision-making process, the solution chosen is the best available for the company's needs, with measurable results.
Risks - The project can quickly go over budget due to the time it takes to evaluate options against needs and complete a formal RFI/RFQ process, high risk of human error in spreadsheets, a small percentage of potential vendors evaluated.
7. Use a technology evaluation tool like Olive to choose the best solution for your needs by automating the correct software selection process to produce a shortlist of vendors in record time.
Pros - Best fit solution found in record time, Olive facilitated remote collaboration, all stakeholders had buy-in and have collaborated to identify and rank requirements, the best solution is found based on the unique business needs, high user adoption due to high stakeholder buy-in and process transparency, the solution integrates seamlessly with other technologies, due diligence reporting available to prove ROI on investing in software evaluation tool, the decision-making process is unbiased due to AI, the company benefits significantly from the benefits of strategic digital transformation, and you get credit for emerging as a 'Digital Transformation Futurist,'
Risks - no risks, just remorse, "Why didn't I use Olive earlier."