Acquiring New Software: How IT Can Help

The marketing department wants to buy an integrated project management system. Accounting is looking for software that incorporates a more up-to-date set of tax rules. Operations needs a better inventory system. Sure, there are software packages out there that can help—but how will the right ones be chosen, and how will they work with the organization's existing systems?

The software selection and implementation process is often fraught with problems. It is usually too complex, and at the same time it has a low probability of delivering the best solution, on time and/or within budget, which meets users' needs and expectations. The traditional RFP process has always been questionable, as vendors tend to have low-level staff prepare the proposal, with the direction to respond positively to every function point possible. The process can and should be streamlined.

Here are some suggested steps:

This selection process may seem like a lot of work up front, but it will pay off many times over in terms of project value, cost control, accurate time frames and a realistic assessment of the project's value. This is an area where the IT team can be tremendously helpful in getting it right the first time.