Before I begin, I would like to thank those who have reached out to me with comments on my blog — it is really appreciated. Now, carrying on from my previous posting, I will spend time on each of the top ten barriers over my next few postings. Please feel free to take a look at my December blog for the complete list. My number 1: Picking a solution.
In order to choose, you have to know what you need and then be able to find a solution that will fulfill it within your budget. If you include many requirements and a high degree of complexity, the solution will become cost-prohibitive. If you reduce your expectations to arrive at a budget you are comfortable with, you may have downsized the solution to a point where it does not provide enough value. Being able to pick a solution so you can even more forward is about two concepts: having a process and prioritizing your requirements.
Have a process: You need to know how your organization is going to make a decision. There are many ways to structure a selection and many organizations that will help you do it. The key is to establish your own steps. This is simply a high level example. Within each item below, there are sub-steps and further details:
- Determine your budget — what your organization can afford realistically
- Create a “selection team” with people from various areas or departments
- Document your requirements and processes
- Confirm understanding of the requirements and process within your organization
- Research vendors and identify four to six candidates — be sure to get help with the selection from outside your organization, i.e. expert opinion, other business in your same industry, etc. as you do not want to miss a good candidate because they did not come up in your Google search
- Share your requirements and processes with the vendors
- Get high level estimates from the candidates and select two short-listed candidates that can meet the requirements within your budget
- Conduct a detailed review of the solutions
Prioritize your requirements: It is very common to have a requirements list so extensive that the solution becomes very expensive and makes the selection almost impossible. Mobile solutions, web portals, a high degree of automation and integration to other systems can all add cost. These requirements are obviously important, but do you have them today? If not, they are critical phase two requirements — an important distinction in actually making a selection. What you need to consider is, can the solution you selected ever strategically provide these requirements?
Create a two-phase budget: Phase 1 requirements are priority, i.e. what you have today that you need in order to run your business. Phase 2 is for all of the additional items required to move your business forward. I have seen this approach to prioritization and budgeting enable many organizations to choose a solution when they had been previously stopped and not able to move forward.
To break through the barrier of making a decision, instill this or another process that will organize your mandatory requirements into phases based on priority.
Next month: Hardware Investment: Yes or No?