Home > Articles > Software Development & Management

  • Print
  • + Share This
Like this article? We recommend

Selection Process

Force-fitting a package into a reluctant customer organization is often a pyrrhic victory. You may win the battle, but lose the mind-share war with your customer.

The essential challenge is to involve the functional customer groups to gain their buy-in, while not confusing them with technical issues. More importantly, you need to keep your credibility and customer focus so that you can counteract the impact of "gee whiz" features and clever vendor selling. This process can be daunting and time-consuming. However, if you don't have the time, but do have some money in your budget, every major consulting firm has a package-selection practice that can help you and your customers buy wisely. If you want to do it yourself, the following sections provide a simple roadmap of the steps in package selection.

Determine the Initial Requirements

Setting functional and performance goals for any new data system is the most difficult task. It's axiomatic that customers always interpret their needs in terms of what they know, and I've seen customers drive decisions toward packages that look like their existing systems but with the rough edges knocked off. It quickly becomes IT's job to intervene to be sure that the enterprises needs are being met and that the new system has the functionality and flexibility to be integrated into the corporate architecture.

In setting requirements, make sure that all participants understand the reasons for shopping for a new package. Are there functional deficiencies that will no longer support the business model? Is the existing system too old and too costly to maintain? If you're replacing a package, is it because the existing vendor is failing to keep up with evolving technology? Each of these reasons can lead to a different selection criterion and different level of customer satisfaction. Functional issues often must be reengineered into the customer organization, while technical issues can often be left to specialists.

Selecting Candidates

When the requirements have been decided, a Consumer Reports–style chart should be produced for each candidate vendor, summarizing how well each vendor's capabilities maps into your requirements. At this step, disqualify any vendor that has clear deficiencies. Don't be swayed by vendors selling futures or spreading junk. Your goals are to reduce the number of packages to two or three candidates worthy of serious consideration. The more you allow into competition, the harder the evaluation and selection process will be. Complexity grows exponentially with the number of vendors. Now is the time to be tough. Weed out weak or inappropriate vendors early.

Scripted Functional Demonstrations

Scripted demos have become a popular way to allow your functional customers to become familiar with the capabilities of the package, while learning more about their own needs as well. Scripting, the act of creating a roadmap for the demo, is essential. Scripting captures the requirements of the customers and inhibits the vendors' natural inclination to play to their strengths and avoid discussion of weak or missing features. Every customer has a wish list of needs, but as they run through the scripted demos customers begin to learn the tradeoffs that vendors have made, and they also learn which features are "must-haves" and which features they can live without.

This is also the time for you to begin learning about the vendors. You're going to be making a long-term commitment to the vendor's people, organization, and product, so now is the time to find out how knowledgeable their support staff is, how responsive they are to issues, how technically sound their product is. This discussion even goes to chemistry issues. How does their organization approach problems? Are their people empowered? Do you have access to management when you need it? If they don't impress you now, they won't likely impress you later.

Technical Evaluation

While the functional customers are going through the demonstrations discussed above, a technical team needs to carefully evaluate the package architecture using the criteria discussed above. The goal of this process is straightforward—determine whether you can live with the package in light of your architecture and technical vision. If not, don't touch it.

Business Discussion

In deciding on a package to become part of your enterprise setup, remember that you are not buying a point solution—you're buying a long-term relationship. Be sure that you clearly understand purchase costs, maintenance fees in future years, training costs, upgrade costs, technical support costs, and what insurance you have in the contract to enable you to control those costs. Get all the costs on the table, including upgrades to your infrastructure, before you decide. Going back to management with a bunch of "gotchas" later is not career-enhancing.

Decision

Once the decision is made, check to see how loud the screaming is from those in your organization. If people are comfortable with the decision and anxious to move ahead, the decision is right. If you're going to have to drag some departments kicking and screaming, then either ensure their support or the willingness of the executive sponsors to push with you, or don't move forward. If you're out too far in front of your organization on the issue, you might think about investing more in helping your customers prepare for the future. IT management is difficult enough without dragging your customers as well.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020