It’s not you, It’s me
Your software partner just gave you the ole “it’s not you, it’s me” breakup, but instead of it taking place over coffee or at a public venue you find out via some standard email or by being tagged in a LinkedIn article. You’re a broken shell of yourself, after all, that you have been through – all their version updates, change orders, the bugs, the investment, blood, sweat, and tears. The adapting your ways to make them happy, all the co-workers you had to convince that your partner was great…oh you heard the water cooler grumblings but chose to say that’s just the way software is. Denial can be a powerful thing.
There is no denying it now
Yep, it’s over and decisions must be made. Many companies and organizations are slow to change, even if the software they have is no longer adequate. Making the decision to change can be a daunting task. Now, someone else’s strategic decision to sunset their offering is forcing you to do the same thing, make a strategic decision – do you ride this software to the end of the line with little to no support or do you face the elephant in the room head on? Regardless of the route, you chose a change is inevitable. How do you make the most of this opportunity? Where do you begin?
Let the courting begin
Should you go straight into an RFP process? Probably not yet. The software world is always in a state of innovation and you just got out of a serious relationship. This is a good time to reflect on the software that is being sunset – What did it do well? What were the shortcomings? Did your business methodology or structure have to adapt to the software model to work best? Involve multiple stakeholders in the reflection process from different roles within your organization to provide perspective across multiple job functions. Once you have this evaluation baseline completed, turn the camera inward and take a selfie. What is the strategic plan of your company and what is the culture of your organization? Is your organization on an aggressive innovation pathway or just the opposite, does your organization embrace change and have a fail fast approach? Are you a transparent company or a silo-centric heads-down departmentalized organization? All of these are factors to take into consideration for software you might evaluate, but the largest factor to take into consideration outside of features and functions is flexibility. The solution must be built for change and adaptable to dynamic business conditions, as well as changes emerging from strategic planning cycles. The ideal solution you choose this year may need to look very different in a few years as you will change over time.
Play the field
You have done your research and have identified features and functions/needs and wants. You have narrowed the field down, now talk to the vendors before going to an RFP. Make sure to understand the functionality and features that each provides. Not just a simple basic understanding of the functionality but an understanding of how the functionality is implemented, how are inputs and outputs created and changed. What is necessary for proper implementation and integration? Ask the vendor to walk you through specific functions and how to change them when the occasion occurs. Make sure you have clarity and an understanding of these six things:
- Are you buying a software development project or is it an out-of-the-box solution?
- How much customization does it require?
- How will your critical requirements be realized in the software?
- Does it offer the flexibility you will need?
- Can the vendor deliver a demo that illustrates true differentiation?
- Does the software fit into your current and anticipated future needs?
It’s time to commit
Now you are ready to issue an RFP. You have reflected inward and outward, and you know what “good” looks like. Issue your RFP on your terms with an understanding of what is essential for your business today and for the future. For a deeper insight into the RFP process, download software selection/RFP template here.