Software Vendor Selection – Steps To Find Initial Vendor List

In my previous post, I put together some information to help you understand your business needs before procuring Enterprise software. I hope information was helpful!

Once you know what you need, you go out and buy it! Right? But, it is not true for purchasing Enterprise software.

Assuming your business needs Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) software (Software package). Then, your next steps are

  • To prepare Request for Proposal (RFP). You can find some guidance here
  • Find software vendors to respond to your RFP. (Be strategic about initial selection of vendors. Do not broadcast your RFP to every possible software vendor)

So, how to undertake initial vendor search? detective-311684_1280 It is simple, just follow these steps:

Find Keywords: Find most appropriate keyword that best represents software you are searching. For example, ‘Asset Management System’, ‘Customer Relationship Management System’, ‘Laboratory Management System’ and so on. It can be generic as well (like ERP, Workflow Management System etc.) Once you know keywords, and then start searching in variety of channels simultaneously.

  • Online channel
    • Search in different search engines: You are likely to get different results. That is what you need (as many software vendors as possible) to prepare initial list.
    • Search for different but similar keywords/terms
    • Read online reviews
    • Ask questions in public forums
    • Refer to popular blogs
    • Refer to specialised websites that helps you to compare software products
    • See what Gartner is saying: Generally Gartner has some great insights on software vendors and their profiles. It is worth checking it.
  • In-house We generally ignore our own colleagues having years of experience in Business. Consult with various Business stakeholders/Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in different lines of service. Explain them what are you trying to achieve. Ask about their experiences. It is likely that you will get some good references, hints and tips.
  • Outside Try to network with people in similar companies as yours. It may be tricky, but you can learn some great lessons and information at almost no cost. Further, whenever you get intouch with software vendor always ask them this question: “Who are your competitors?” It has two benefits. Firstly, it tells you at which level vendor is competing (Tier 1, 2, 3). Secondly, you may get contacts of vendors that you may not know in first place. Besides this, consider consulting outside consultant. Certainly, these is cost associated to this service. However, it should be looked in perspective of over capital investment for software implementation. Further, if you have done initial hard work (as per my previous post) you can substantially reduce consulting cost. Above steps will help you to prepare initial list of software vendors.

Next step is to shortlist software vendors to send RFP. I will cover this topic in next post. For now, tell me which tools techniques you have used in past to undertake software vendor search? What were some of the challenges? Please share your thoughts comments section. I would love to hear from you!

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