As a leading implementer of data and marketing technology we at Bench often engage late in a client’s selection process and more often than not, after a client has already acquired the software. Yet the danger of entering into a process, to acquire, before engaging with an implementer can be two-fold:
Firstly, technology vendors are ultimately in the business of selling their product and, whilst there are a few horror stories out there, they are not in the business of deliberately overselling capacity or product. They will make as much of an effort as possible to size the requirement accurately to be sure they will compete. So what is the problem?
- Their focus is centred around the product and they are often not always given as much access to the business as the service provider. So they do not always have the full picture and can make significant assumptions.
- Often a company will have a keen forward thinking individual that will invariably over estimate their organisation’s maturity to be able to adopt some of the advanced benefits of software. Organisations are often looking to them to provide the guidance and metrics for the software vendor to quote. This is where a product misalignment can take place.
- In addition to this, in order to create a compelling story, software vendors focus on and will secure the business off of the advanced (sometimes still in beta) aspects of a product. Again, this can lead to acquiring something today that will not add value for many months, even years – largely due to my following point.
Secondly, if there is significant business, structural, or cultural change to an organisation required to take an advantage of the technology, this is often missed in the engagement with the vendor and again “internal issues to resolve” are often put to the back burner whilst they get through the procurement. This extends time to value.
A few key things as a client that you need to consider are therefore:
- Why are we doing this? Clear articulation of the existing or soon to be business problem? This should cover root cause analysis, impact assessment etc…the list of tools to do this goes on…
- What value is the purchase directly linked to? eg. saving money (reducing risk, improving processes, reducing costs etc.); making money, (increasing sales, cross sales, improving retention etc.); enhancing the brand (creating improved service offering or value for your customers); what is the measure of success? This is often too generic and not specific enough. It should be clearly articulated and documented. This helps with your business case and approval for investment…
- Will this impact to value be achieved through core functionality or through use of advanced features and how is this divided?
- How can we determine this impact? Look to Agile 101. If you installed the software and switched it on what would the impact be to the business at that point? This is where Minimum Viable Product commitments should come in. E.g. the delivered return expected by the core aspect of the product is, incremental “Value A” and is savings, uplift in sales, increase in audience, improved experience…
- Has this been documented in the business and investment plan? Simply has this been written down and is there a business and investment plan. Are the vendors aware of it and specifically where have they driven value in this previously.
In short, what should you have before looking at a technology vendor?
1) Business value analysis – what will it create (the software vendor will definitely have their opinion on this but so should you)
2) Gap Analysis – how far away are we from getting the value out of the technology so maturity, culture, business fit, required skillset etc…
3) Requirements documents – specifically what do I need, is each requirement linked back to the value
4) A Service and Implementation partner – that is separate to the vendor.
Written by Dan Telling
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