Enterprise software implementations are extensive, complex and costly. As there is a lot of money involved, vendors do not always do the right thing. It is pervasive to see:
- The Salespeople promise the world, and the Delivery team struggles to deliver.
- The software sold to the business is not fit for its purpose. Hence, it needs many customisations.
- Vendors are lowballing the initial quote, and every change request comes with a high price tag.
- The vendor/partner has no quality resources available to do the work.
- After the sale is complete, it is not easy to get hold of vendor resources to make progress on the project.
So, as a Project Sponsor, what you can do to avoid getting ripped off?
There are many things we should consider. But, I am keeping it very simple since you may be involved in the software selection for the first time.
So, what is the bare minimum that you must do?
If you are part of the software selection panel, then follow these three simple steps:
- Set selection criteria for an independent walkthrough and feedback from at least three references in your industry and scope. For example, if you manufacture rubber pipes, undertake an independent walkthrough and reference check with at least three references that also manufacture rubber pipes. Ensure that their project scope is similar to yours.
- During the reference checks, prepare a checklist of the stuff that is important for your business. For example, prepare a checklist of questions that you like to ask. Ensure that implementation at the reference site is less than five years old. Implementation must be done by the vendor/partner you are evaluating. You are not just assessing software products. You are also evaluating if the partner can successfully implement the product.
- Compare the results within your team and make a final selection. For example, after speaking to the companies in your same industry, which solution and partner will satisfy your business needs.
This looks very simple. But you will be surprised to see how many customers skip the reference checks. Doing a thorough reference check is much better than sticking with the wrong software product and vendor.
This is one of the simplest ways to protect your business from the empty promises of salespeople.