Software Vendor Selection – Shortlist Vendors To Request For Proposal

In my previous posts, I presented some information to undertake groundwork for software selection. In last post, I have suggested some tips to search for software vendors. Based on information provided you may find many prospective vendors. It is not advisable to send Request for Proposal (RFP) to every vendor. Instead, probe each vendor to ascertain vendors that meet majority of your requirements. Then, send RFP to selected vendors only. Following considerations will help you to shortlist vendors that are worth pursuing for RFPs.

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  1. Company Profile: Compare corporate profiles for each vendor. Look for company’s origin, core services and products, financial position, investors, public/private, age, partnerships etc.
  2. Physical presence: Ascertain if project implementation requires consulting services from vendor. Check if project requires onsite consulting (means software consultant physically present onsite). Based on your requirements, you can remove vendors that cannot provide consulting services locally. Alternatively, consider travelling cost that project budget has to bear.
  3. Consulting requirements: Analyse your broad consulting requirements. Consulting service may range from Project Management, Solution Architecture, Functional, Business Analysis, Testing, Change Management, Technical and Infrastructure consulting. Based on your requirements, remove vendors that do not satisfy your consulting needs.
  4. Support arrangements: Establish your software support requirements. Check support arrangements for each vendor. Do they provide support over phone, web-chat or email? What are their working hours? If support is not 24×7, then check if there is time difference between your location(s) and vendor’s support centre(s).
  5. Popularity: If software is from one of the well-known vendors like Microsoft, SAP, Oracle then you do not have to rely on specific software vendor for consulting services. Due to availability of independent consultants, you may find comparatively cheaper consulting services.
  6. Consider Gartner: Gartner has some interesting insights about software products and vendors. It is worth digging into Gartner website.
  7. Software implementation in similar industry: Investigate which software is already been implemented in your industry/domain before. You may find some software products meet needs to specific industry.
  8. Infrastructure requirements: Understand technology/procurement preferences and constraints. For example, your company may have preference to purchase Microsoft technologies based software, or do not allow SaaS or PaaS based solutions. Drop vendors that do not meet infrastructure requirements of your business.

It is vital to shortlist right set of software vendors. It is from this list you are likely to finalise software vendor. Do not rush. Do your homework. Understand your current and future needs. Understand problems you are trying to resolve. Understand your limitations, constraints, assumption and dependencies. Good luck!

Have you undergone this journey before? Share your story!

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