Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Keys to success for a software search

Although I'm technically on vacation this week, I came into the office to wrap up a report for a client I visited last month. I did a review of their entire performance operation, which resulted in a recommendation that they move forward with a software search. Since they wanted some help in getting pointed in the right direction, I included a schematic we developed some time ago, which identifies what see as the "keys to success" for such an undertaking:

As you can see, we believe there are several “keys to success” for software search projects.
  • Performance measurement & GIPS expertise: it is no doubt obvious that an in-depth knowledge of performance, the GIPS standards, and attribution is paramount to having a successful search.
  • Software development and design experience: We believe that a solid technical background is also paramount as it assures you that the analyst is intimately familiar with the other side of the equation.
  • Exceptional analytical skills: software searches are very much an analytical activity; therefore, it’s critically important that the individual who heads up the effort be skilled at analysis, which includes the ability to know what questions to ask, detail the requirements, evaluate how the competing products meet these needs (micro level), and compare vendors along broader perspectives (macro level).
  • Familiarity with the vendors: having an awareness of the “major players” is important to assure that the most appropriate vendors are considered. Ideally you will want to narrow the field down to the vendors you think are most likely to meet your needs.
  • Recognized expertise: ideally the analyst should be recognized for their knowledge so as to establish credibility with the vendors being considered, though this isn’t a requirement.
  • Proven success: it’s also ideal to have past success with these projects. A software search and selection is a huge investment in resources, both time and money, so success is critical, as you don’t want to repeat the process soon after a selection is made.
  • Independence & objectivity: if the analyst is biased, it is likely they will favor one vendor over another, even though there may be a better solution available for the client.
We use the term "analyst" to represent the team leader, his or her designee, a group of individuals chosen for the task, and/or a consultant. I'll touch further on this topic shortly.

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