Choosing the right IT product to meet your needs can be a challenge. Far too many IT projects end up failing for a variety of reasons, including implementation, resourcing, miscalculation, technology, lack of training and change management. However the worst of all is dooming a project to failure by choosing the wrong tool in the first place.
To help you avoid joining them, we listened to Jarrod Gingras, Analyst Director, Advisory Services at Real Story Group who outlined the five most common mistakes that enterprises make in IT procurement.
mistake #1: choosing the wrong vendor
To find the right vendor you need to create the best shortlist. While this seems to be a trivial exercise, it can be quite difficult because it isn't necessarily easy to identify exactly which type of tools you need. Related tools can do similar things, but it's vital that you choose a product that actually meets your requirements head on, rather than as an extra.
To identify the right tools for the shortlist look at typical scenarios and choose those that have strengths in those specific areas. Remember that every product is designed for a particular intent. Although vendors claim that their product can do everything, they are all best used in certain scenarios.
mistake #2: only using canned demos
Never choose a product based only on using the standard demo provided at the vendor's office. Bring the vendor to your site to demonstrate the product there. Remember that your buyers will like the product's eye-catching features and vendors will be keen to push these. But at the end of the day, you should be more focused on the core functionality.
Different products handle core functionality in very different ways. Consider workflow: how does the product handle it, is it very sophisticated? Your demo should see whether it is able to cope with your business processes and workflow. Take a scenario-based approach, which will help the vendor understand what you want to achieve.
mistake #3: not getting the full implementation picture
It is a common procurement mistake to overbuy and overestimate your own capabilities in implementation. Enterprises often buy a digger when a spade may be more useful. Integrators and the vendor's professional services team are essential to help you achieve this - but who to choose? There is no one right way and it can depend on factors such as the understanding between your team and theirs. In fact, if implementation is important to you, it may be a good idea to open up the original RFP to both vendors and integrators so that you could choose them together.
mistake #4: not properly test-driving the solution
All too frequently enterprises buy a product based on the strength of the demo alone. This does not take into account how the product works in your environment. The ideal scenario is to conduct a bake-off or proof-of-concept project, using an environment that is as realistic as possible. Invite the finalists in to do a mini-project that best represents what you want it to do.
Even if you just invite one vendor before making the choice, the proof-of-concept project will allow you to use the product in a real production environment. It also helps you to see how the product integrates with your own systems and allows you to get to know the implementation teams.
mistake #5: leaving it too late to negotiate
At the end of the day, procurement is all about getting the best deal, so make sure that you negotiate for any discount at the right time. Don't leave it too late, such as after you have already chosen the software you want. The best times to negotiate include after the RFP process or during the on-site demos. Remember that buying software is essentially a contract negotiation process, so you will need to get the commercial team involved from the outset.