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Choosing the Right Software Vendor: 4 Considerations When Running a Software Vendor Selection 

Selecting the right software vendor can be high stakes. When implementing a system, the anticipated benefits realization is determined based on a variety of choices along the way, including, but not limited to, software, implementation partner, executive support, project team selection, and end-user adoption. But one of the first and most critical elements is selecting the right software vendor and partner.

So how can your organization ensure you are selecting the right software vendor? At a minimum, to run a successful vendor selection you need a structured selection process paired with well-defined requirements and selection criteria. However, the perfect process can’t ensure the right vendor is selected. Below we’ve outlined four considerations organizations should account for when conducting a software vendor selection in order to ensure the RIGHT software solution is selected.

Four Considerations for a Successful Software Vendor Selection

1. Prioritize business requirements.
Your business requirements are the heart of the software selection process. When developing your requirements, your organization needs to work to not just define but vet and prioritize your business requirements, accounting for the unique intricacies of your business. There is a move toward adoption of industry best practices that come with industry-leading solutions, in which business adopt “out-of-the-box” business requirements. However, for your potential software vendors to fully understand what you require in your business for the software to work for you, this effort needs to happen. In Clarkston’s experience, this is best done through a variety of functional driven workshops to ensure the selection process is aligned to the benefits you want to achieve.

2. Ensure the right people are involved in the software vendor selection process.
Ensuring the right people are in the room and that your requirements match your goals are essential to the solution’s implementation and long-term success. It goes without saying that the business is critical to the selection process. But also, so are your peers in IT. The IT, technical, and long-term support team are essential parts of the software selection process, especially during requirements gathering and prioritization. This ensures the selected solution fits within your IT architecture strategy, data/application security, long-term support capabilities, and any other organization specific strategy and requirements. Your IT team needs to work alongside your business team to ensure a holistic design is considered, and importantly, to digest and analyze software vendor responses to ensure they meet your organization’s needs and capabilities as well. The goal is to implement a strong system, but to also ensure that the system can be supported, grow, and evolve with your business.

3. Align selection criteria to desired benefits.
The software solution that checks the most of your requirements may not necessarily be the best solution for your organization: the software solution that satisfies your most critical requirements and would allow you to achieve your desired benefits is. For example, the software that meets all your requirements may not be able to accommodate the expected growth and scaling of your business.  This is why it’s imperative to align your vendor demo scripts and evaluation scorecards with your most critical qualitative and quantitative benefits. This way, you can ensure the software solution you are selecting is the RIGHT solution for your organization and will allow you to realize your desired benefits, not just the one that checks the most boxes.

4. Start your planning early.
Implementation planning needs to begin during the selection process.  This does not just mean developing the implementation roadmap and defining the project team, it needs to include stakeholder and systems impacts, change management and training planning, identifying internal and external resource requirements, determining any backfill requirements, etc.

Clarkston Can Help

Software vendor selections are never easy. They normally take large cross-functional teams and require a delicate alignment of your business strategy, business and IT processes, and business and IT requirements. While many organizations may opt to take on this challenge internally, many organizations decide the best path is to have an impartial third-party run the selection process. That experienced third-party can facilitate cross-functional conversations in a tactful, collaborative, and outcomes driven approach.

Clarkston has a robust vendor selection methodology that looks across functional, technical, and vendor dimensions to drive a complete understanding of software vendor capabilities when evaluating vendors and their ability to meet your business needs today, and in the future.

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Tags: Vendor Selection & Advisory, Software Selection