Software Selection and the 2/3 that Matter

When selecting software, how do you know if it’s the right one?  How much time do you need to spend vetting the solution?     It’s a tough call.   In the 60s and 70s, “no one ever got fired for buying IBM”.   In the 80s and 90s, “no one ever got fired for buying Microsoft”.    Here in the 21st century, it’s just not that simple anymore.

One place to start is to look at the key reasons why software implementations fail.   The top reasons why software implementations fail are rarely bad features or bad software.  It’s unusual and not the norm when the reason is that the software didn’t meet the needs of the organization.   There just aren’t that many “sketchy” solutions anymore.   Most of them have been vetted and have plenty of installs that make them a reasonable choice.  Rather, the top reasons for failure are almost always poor user adoption, inadequate planning, and/or insufficient training.   Interesting that none of these have anything to do with the actual software itself.   What does this tell us?

I think the lesson to be learned from this is how to slice the pie of time spent on selecting and implementing new software for an organization.   Whether it’s Accounting & ERP Software like Sage MAS 90 or MAS 200 or CRM Software like SugarCRM, it’s all the same.   The time spent on this process should be mostly related to the planning of the implementation rather than on the actual selection of the “right” software?  I’d say it should be 1/3 software evaluation and selection and 2/3 implementation planning focusing on how to organize the implementation, how to ensure that users successfully adopt the software, and scheduling the right amount of the right training.   Do your homework up front.   Have a great requirements list, look at the all the software in your space, get demos, make sure you’re comfortable with the vendor and the partner helping with the implementation, make a decision, and then move on.  Then, focus on the 2/3 that matters.   If you get that right, you’ll be successful no matter what software you choose.