Evaluating and Selecting Software and Service Providers

There are various steps involved in this:
Step 1: Create a Project Team and Action Plan
Form a project advisory or guidance team to oversee the entire process beginning with the action plan – or roadmap. This team should include at least one key executive sponsor. Direct and visible support from someone like the senior vice president of operations or the chief information officer will be crucial for retaining momentum and being successful.
Step 2: Identify and Map Sources of Information and Records
Before evaluating solutions, identify the content to be managed beginning with all the sources, physical dimensions, and quantities for paper and electronic files and formats (e.g., email, digital voice mail, digital video, data bases); digital and analog recordings; physical artifacts and samples; and any other non-standard sources of information.
Step 3: Review Current Process for Potential Improvement
Document processes to find potential areas for improvement. Record, as it occurs, who, what, when, where, and how each bit of information is created, captured, stored, accessed for re-use, and modified.
Step 4: Prioritize Business Needs
Prioritize business needs by determining which features you would like to have and features you absolutely need to have. Take time to have discussions with end users to learn more about what could improve their work processes and products. Define improvements to cost, time, and user satisfaction.
Step 5: Pre-Qualify Potential Solutions
Reduce the number of solutions you are considering to three or four. Your evaluation team does not have enough time to evaluate more.
Step 6: Pre-Evaluate Potential Service Providers
Before meeting with service providers make sure they:

  • Have fully reviewed the requirements
  • Fully understand each of the mission-critical processes
  • Can demonstrate the solution to those mission-critical requirements

Step 7: Validate Service Provider References
When visiting or calling references, don’t just ask if they like the system or if the system works; the service provider would not provide an unsatisfied customer as a reference. Ask the references to refer you to several other users if they know of any
Step 8: Make the Decision
Each step in the decision-making process is, in its own right, key to long-term success. If a small, elite group, such as the organization’s IT department or a single executive, selects software and it fails, it’s their fault. But if the software selection is a group decision, the group owns the results, and its members will likely work hard to prove they were right.
Step 9: Establish an Implementation Plan
Work with a service provider that gives second-tier support, implementation, or training, along with the provider’s guarantees and relationships with partners to ensure adequate accountability.
Step 10: Negotiate Price and Service Level Agreements
The final step in selection is negotiation. Some people look forward to doing battle with the service provider, but keep in mind the people you are negotiating with (against) are the very people who will be responsible for your success. This must be a win-win situation.
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