Surviving the Software Selection Process: Page 2

Stressed out about choosing a multi-million-dollar software package for your enterprise? You're not alone. Our Datamation columnist tells you how to make the best choice for your business.
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Weeding Through the Vendors

Schedule times for each ISV finalist to deliver their standard demo. This may require a series of demonstrations depending on how many modules are being considered. Prepare a list of questions that will help you identify technical and business concerns. Try not to get too far off track during these demos because you want to see all the basic, out-of-the-box functionality in the allotted time.

There will be time for drilling down into your concerns after seeing all the presentations.

Now that your team has reviewed each finalist's proposal and has seen the product in action, request a custom demo. This is where you can rake the vendor over the coals. Well, let's keep it professional. But in all seriousness, this is your team's chance to explore the nooks and crannies of the product.

Give each vendor the same amount of time to build the customizations, but have someone from your team shadow them as they make the changes. Make sure there are no smoke and mirrors in play, and gauge how much configuration versus actual programming is necessary to meet your requirements.

In addition, set technical benchmarks that the vendor must prove, such as numbers of transactions per minute in the case of high-volume processing.

Now comes the hard part.

Compile the ratings of each product, by feature, and come to an empirical final ranking.

Then you must compare each vendor's qualifications, which should be well vetted by this point. How stable are they financially? Is there an impending acquisition, like Oracle's recent bid to take over PeopleSoft? Were the references provided impeccable?

Set up meetings with each vendor to provide them a chance to respond to all your concerns.

As your journey comes to an end with the selection of a vendor, be careful not to overlook the items that hang on the periphery of these projects.

''Don't forget that your package system is usually just a part of your total picture,'' says Morani. ''You still have to think about system interfaces, addressing changing requirements and reporting requirements.'' This includes potential legacy data conversion and new hardware requirements.

But in reality, your journey is just beginning. You have a long implementation road ahead. So take a well deserved break and reward yourself with a nice big bowl of frosted covered sugar flakes. Enjoy!

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