How to Avoid the Headaches Associated with Shopping for Technology

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Kimberly Kostachuk

We condensed and enhanced the 10 steps to making the right purchase as proposed by the BDC into a quick read, with hopes to save others the headaches so often associated with shopping around for technology.

Here are ten steps for finding the right technology for your needs:

Start with a business plan. Make sure it details your visions for the future and the strategy to achieve it. Also consider the “type” of people and organizations you want to work with.

Create an inventory of all information and communication technology you use and highlight the shortcoming of those systems. Where do you see opportunities for improvement? Is an simple upgrade to your existing software required?

Create a list of requirements based on your business strategy. Further, organize these needs based on their importance within your business plan. The BDC suggests including, “implementation elements, including employee training and re-engineering your business processes.”

Evaluate the potential costs, timeline, and other organizational constraints; as well as the available financial and human resources required.

Request proposals from vendors and be sure to base it on the requirements you have mapped. You can already start evaluating proponents in this phase, in the way they interact with you and the questions they bring up as they build their proposal for your project.

Rank each vendor on their ability to meet each of your requirements. Determine the total cost of ownership (TCO) of each proposal, including costs for discovery, licensing, professional services, and ongoing maintenance.

Request a demo of the highest ranking options and make sure that the vendors are aware of which of your requirements–and perhaps gaps found in their proposal–they need to address during their showcase.

Involve your employees throughout the entire process to ensure their needs are met, and that they have a good grasp of the new system.

Develop a plan of action with your employees to implement the new system.

Look back and evaluate the implementation and impact of the new system. Project debrief is one key exercise that will make future planning easier.

In addition, experience tells us that human connection and alignment (team approachability, formal vs. informal, trust building mechanisms, short-term vs. long-term commitment) is a very important factor that is often overlooked. Find a provider that matches your organizational values.

The final takeaway is to remember to include your whole team while going through these steps as they will also be able to provide input on requirements you may have overlooked. And don’t be afraid to contact a consultant at any time during the process.

The entire BDC article can be viewed here.