Introduction

Selecting the right software for your organization can be a challenging task, especially when it comes to enterprise performance management. The requirements can often be as unique as the business itself; full exceptions, special cases, and one-of-a-kind nuances. The very nature of performance management means that an ideal solution must be built to handle changes in internal requirements as well as ever-changing business conditions. The solution you implement this year may need to look very different in a few years as your business needs evolve. While there is a large volume of content available on the web regarding frameworks and best practices in selecting software, buyers of performance management software typically find very little helpful information.

The objective of this guide is to share practical software selection tips that you can use during your performance management software evaluation process.

Common misconceptions about software selection and how to avoid them

Before getting down to the best practices, it is important to know what to avoid. Here are three common misconceptions about selecting performance management software. These will help you to establish fundamental questions to ask vendors.

Misconception #1
What works well for others will work well for you

No. Each business is unique. This is the fundamental reason that considerable management time is spent on “the differentiating strategy.” Since each business strategy is different, the methods required to execute the strategy must vary as well. It is important to keep the focus on your needs while evaluating software for performance management and strategy execution.

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Misconception #2
Software selection is all about choosing a solution with great technical functionality

No. Functionality offers an incomplete picture of your experience with a solution. While it is certainly important to choose a solution that meets your functional requirements, it is critical to also look at the flexibility and ease of use that places the functionality in the hands of your business users.

A solution that is easy to manage and maintain will offer a predictable implementation timeframe, and a lower total cost of ownership as the solution is used well into the future. This offers greater long-term value for the customer.

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Misconception #3
Generic demos and nice presentations are evidence of the best software

No. Generic demos and presentations are good ways to get introduced to a software solution. It is when you move deeper into the evaluation process and analyze how well a solution fits into your specific business needs that the actual use of the solution emerges. Please remember – the devil is in the details.

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Finding the best fit for your organization

Selecting a software is no simple task. There are numerous factors to consider, numerous boxes to check. To choose a software that best fits your organization, Corporater Founder and CEO, Tor Inge Vasshus, recommends for you to consider the following tips and observations.

Software Selection Tip #1
Talk to vendors ahead of the tender process

Got and talk to all vendors out there. Ask them “what is important?” You might think you know what’s important for your company and should ask for this and this, but I think you can learn a lot by talking to the vendors ahead of the tender process. So, I think it’s a good and sound principle “talk to the vendors” and build up knowledge before you go out tendering.

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Software Selection Tip #2
It’s all about how the functionality is implemented

Software selection should not be about functionality alone. Most vendors can typically deliver all functionality that you can ever imagine asking about. So, if it’s not about functionality, what is about then? I think it’s about how the functionality is implemented in the software. You need to challenge the vendors.

The way you challenge the vendors is to give them assignments such as: Describe how the following functionality is implemented. Use the word “describe” – this is the keyword. Not just let them go away with “yes” or “no” or a checkbox. Let them really describe how the functionality is implemented. Ask them for a guide, so you can see your screenshot, your business model, and you can see actually if you are able to implement this in your organization.

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Software Selection Tip #3
Implementing strategy is about change management

My third observation is about change.

You might think you know how you’d like to have things implemented. Software vendors require a high level of detail. So, what we see is that people are not ready to respond to these details. And if you see how projects are run, the vendors try to lock you into the design phase where they should fix the design. So, you cannot change after you have fixed the design, because they would like to build the data warehouse based on your fixed design.

My thinking is that you’re not able to give them all the details ahead. Because it will change all the time and actually these projects – strategy management, strategy execution, performance management – is about change. So, don’t go into this trap of agreeing “I locked the project, I locked the design phase,” because if you do that, they will issue a change request for all the time, for every time you are changing the scope. And you will change the scope all the time.

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Software Selection Tip #4
Challenge your vendor

It’s not enough to just look at generic demos, seeing nice PowerPoints, or just reading through the tender documents. What you need is evidence. I think you need evidence on how to create the KPI and you should challenge the vendors in the meeting when you see them presenting a proposal. You just say, “Can you create a KPI for me? Show me.” And this gives you evidence. This gives you the comfort that you need.

You can also continue and say, “Can we please have an assessment here? Show me. I also need an initiative. Can you add an initiative? Show me how it works.” You need to have this good feeling before you sign up with a new software vendor.

And if you are unsure, go for a half-day workshop. Come with your strategy plans, your strategy maps, your KPIs and challenge them. At the end, you’d probably have a good feeling. Then you can sign. If you don’t have the good feeling, don’t sign.

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Software Selection Tip #5
EPM is an ongoing process

My last observation is that an enterprise performance management project is really not a project. It’s actually an ongoing process. And it continues after the consultants have left you. Then the key question comes up, “Who will manage the software on a daily basis?” “Has the implementation team delivered enough documentation? Have they been sharing their knowledge, so you’re able to operate this on a daily basis?” This is key. And I think you should ask for this in your tender documents. At the end, I would like to wish you good luck with your software selection process.

And in order to help you, Corporater has developed a document that you can download from our website, and it can help you select the best software. Because this is what we want. We want you to have the best software, and that’s why we have made this guide. Good luck and all the best!

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Software Selection Bonus Pro Tip

Are you challenging your vendor enough?

An excellent way to differentiate vendors is to request a free proof-of-concept. If the software is flexible and easy to use, it should be easy for the vendor to set up a proof-of-concept based on your requirements. Making this request a part of your vendor selection process will aid an objective evaluation of the solutions.

Additional points to consider during your software selection process
  • Are you buying a software framework or is it an out-of-the-box solution?
  • How much customization does it require?
  • How are your critical requirements implemented in the software?
  • There can be several ways of implementing a stated requirement.
  • Does it offer the flexibility you will need?
  • Are influenced by analyst reviews? Are analysts actually covering your business needs?
  • Does the software fit into your current and future needs?
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Software Selection and RFP Writing Guide

Get all of these tips in one place. Download a comprehensive guide to software vendor selection and RFP writing.

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