How to Pick Technology
February 09, 2021
Technology is a significant investment and an incredibly useful one, when the right technology is brought in. Here are some tips and considerations to help you pick the most useful tech for your company.
Using your business and IT strategy as a guide, identify the purpose of the investment by answering the following questions:
- What problems are going to be solved?
- What processes are going to live in the technology or be impacted by it?
- What do we already have and how would the new technology fit in?
Don't overlook your current technology! An important part of prep is assessing the systems you have in place already. Check whether you're using the system to its full capacity or if new features are available. Problems may be solved without bringing in new technology or additional cost!
If after reviewing existing technology, you find that a new technology is still needed, below are some next steps.
Define the Need
Every business has different needs, challenges, and opportunities. Start defining yours by identifying your requirements.
Business RequirementsBusiness requirements stem directly from process maps. Process maps, or flows, detail the actions, roles, sequence, and decisions within each business process. These highlight functional needs of the system. Once the process flows and related requirements are documented, define the criticality of the requirements.
Critical, high and nice-to-have are a simple way to categorize. It highlights what must be in the system to be worth the investment versus what would be a bonus but won’t factor significantly into the decision. For example, for an engineering company, the design process may be critical, but it will not happen in a CRM nor can it be expected to so this should not be a ‘Critical’ requirement for a CRM system.
Technical RequirementsTechnical Requirements focus on solution architecture. They outline security needs and integrations needed between the new system and other systems. It is important to gather the following:
- How many users and licenses are needed?
- If the solution will live ‘On-Premise’, does the current server hardware have capacity or is an upgrade necessary?
- How will this technology communicate with or connect with existing tech?
- What kind of maintenance support will be needed? Do those resources exist internally?
Data & Reporting Requirements
Decisions and strategic direction are supported by data and reporting outputs. They are most valuable when decision makers across the organization provide input into their data and reporting needs. The following questions highlight how the system is meant to support the business:
- What decisions are made today across the organization?
- What data and reports support those decisions and must be maintained?
- What data and reports are not captured today that would support better decision making?
Finding the SolutionWith your requirements in hand, its time to find the best tech to meet the company needs. To ensure this moves forward on time, assign a project manager in house or bring in outside support to get the most out of your investment.
- Draft a Request for Proposal (RFP) based on the Business, Technology, and Data & Reporting Requirements.
- Identify, at most, 5 potential vendors and release the RFP
- A good starting point is reaching out to industry groups and peers to see what’s worked for them and what hasn’t.
- Something to avoid is the google black-hole. It’s easy to lose significant time in the wave of options and in the endless calls and sales cycles with vendors who may not meet the need.
- Draft scripts with business specific scenarios that need to be demonstrated by the vendors.
- Host Demonstrations and Q&A Sessions with the vendors
- Assess submitted proposals against a Vendor Decision Matrix
- Negotiate the contract and project deadlines with the selected vendor(s). Be sure to include the following in the contract:
- Expectations and service level agreements including response times and protocols
- How overages, errors, and additional scope items will be managed
- Post Go-Live support scope and costs