Step-by-step is the best approach to a successful technology selection
Like so many things in life, taking the time to plan “it” out – whatever “it” is – almost always leads to a more successful outcome. In the case of a technology and implementation partner selections, it is an absolute that the selected partner(s) will be a better fit if the decision is made in a logical, sequential manner.
Many have published “How-to” guides for selecting technologies, as has DCG with our 8 Steps to Selection the Best Fit Technology and Implementation tool. Rather than go through each step, you can check out our tool for all the details, what I want to focus on here are a few of the steps we see as essential, yet so many companies (and other how-to guides), well, step over, in their rush to sign on the dotted line of the contract and tick the selection project off as complete.
DCG Step 1 – Identify the business problem(s) that the new technology will address.
Technology is never THE answer. It can absolutely be an important element to the overall solution, but when you get down to it, any technology – system, solution, platform – is just a grouping of features and functionality that requires skilled people and well thought out processes to make it shine. That is one of the reasons why before setting down the path to selecting a new technology, it is critical to understand the business problem it is meant to help address. Thinking you have a content publishing problem, or an analytics issue, or a customer record conundrum, without really knowing, may only add to your woes (by landing up with the wrong technology) instead of alleviating them. So before you even start thinking about acronyms – CMS, WEM, CXM, MAP – validate the need and understand whether the problem requires a new technology, or perhaps rather than an updating/realignment of existing solutions, processes, and/or team skills.
DCG step 3 – Narrow the focus by identifying the most important/impactful requirements
If done correctly requirements gathering will likely yield a massive spreadsheet with row upon row of requirements. Trying to use all asks as the baseline for finding the right solution can be an exercise in futility. Sorting through the plethora of needs/wants/requirements to come up with a (much shorter) focused list of requirements, what we call Focal Needs, that are unique and essential (and not table stakes to most vendors) to the organization will help narrow the list of the hundreds of vendors to consider, as well as help ensure that the true needs of the organization are met by the selected solution.
DCG Step 5 – Spend as much time selecting the implementation partner as you do the technology
Traditionally the implementation partner (agency, systems integrator, solution provider) came along with the selected technology vendor, with little or no input from you, the buyer. This mode of partner selection is akin to going to a restaurant and telling the waiter to pick your meal – you may hit the jackpot, but more likely you will end up eating yesterday’s special.
As you gather the technology requirements, take that time to ask stakeholders about what they think the implementation partner should bring to the table. Obviously, they need experience and expertise in the chosen platform, but what else will help make this implementation more successful?
- Does the team lack project management prowess?
- When was the last time a skills audit was performed?
- What about a process review?
The implementation partner you choose – be they an internal team or external agency – will be one of the most impactful factors to the overall success of the implementation initiative. So choose wisely.
DCG Step 8 – Be purposeful in carving out a scope of work for a proof of concept.
For many, once the technology (and implementation partner) decision has been made a hand-off to the procurement and legal teams takes place. This is when the project team moves into limbo, waiting for contracts’ i’s to be dotted and t’s crossed. This is an excellent opportunity to work with the selected vendor and implementation partner team to carve out details for a productive and efficient proof of concept (POC).
A POC can act as a kick-starter to the bigger gig. This is not a make-work effort. The tasks within, and results of, the POC should contribute directly to the technology implementation effort. The cost of the POC often falls below the procurement red tape threshold (and yes, we highly recommend a paid POC), so separating the POC out from the main project contract can often help get the initiative moving more quickly. It is also an excellent opportunity to fine tune the scope of work (deliverables, timelines, etc.) for the main event and test the waters of the new working relationship.
Steps in the right direction
Organizations, of all sizes, are faced with an increasingly complex and growing landscape of technologies to choose from. Today’s industry-leading marketing and customer experience management solutions offer far more functionality than ever before. This expanded breadth of capabilities, along with the need for many of the tools in place to work (integrate) with other applications, increases both the value and complexity, of the solution set to the organization. However, this complexity also increases the risk of a failed implementation. That is why being methodical and purposeful throughout the selection process is so important. DCG’s selection tool can help.