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How NOT to conduct a technology evaluation

June 18, 2011 - Project Management, Technology

Ahh, technology evaluations.  Sometimes conducted in earnest, sometimes completely fabricated to justify a favorite, but always emotional.  It may seem odd, but people get quite emotionally attached to their favorite enterprise technologies, which makes leading an objective tech eval challenging.  You know how much you love your phone?  That’s also how much someone can love financial reporting software.

For those of you who have led a tech eval before, you’ll probably recognize these pitfalls.  For those of you who haven’t, [spooky voice] bewaaaaaaare. [/spooky voice]

Technology Evaluation Destroyers

laser gun1. Scheduling the vendor demos BEFORE collecting the business requirements

Unless you want the business requirements to be a photocopy of the shiniest vendor brochure, this one’s a biggie.  Your business partner may push back, since many people believe they don’t know their requirements because they don’t know what’s possible, but with some guidance and a good facilitated workshop, you should have at least a solid high level requirements baseline before even researching possible vendors.  And nothing says the requirements can’t be adjusted after the demos.

laser gun2. Not documenting the CRAP out of the final decision

Leaders come and go from an organization, and sometimes (okay, most of the time), that can turn everything upside-down.  To help ensure you won’t have to redo your tech eval every time leadership changes, document the crap out of your process, all findings, and the specifics behind the final decision.  Internal technology rating scorecards, tech eval process steps, a list of the stakeholders involved, and a final executive summary of the outcome are needed, at a minimum.

laser gun3. Believing the brochure-ware

Salesmen are nice guys.  Really.  They will show up looking really dapper in their suits and ties, will say all kinds of flattering things about you and the organization and how things are being run, and may even take you and your team out for dinner.  And I would never say that they lie, but sometimes, the truth is stretched.

You: “Can your software report the financials sliced by region?”
Salesman: “Absolutely!”

What the salesman WON’T tell you is that custom coding by a software programmer is required to get that regional view of the numbers.  So during vendor demos, dig, dig, dig.  If they say yes, ask how.

 

What’s your favorite tech eval gotcha?

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