What is a Technology Selection Process?
A technology selection process is an IT procurement exercise that takes a business from an initial assessment of the technology market, through a shortlisting exercise, and to a decision on the preferred technology vendor for the specific business challenge.
There are a variety of ways to run a selection process. At Viewpoint Analysis, we act as a Technology Matchmaker and we run selection processes on behalf of businesses looking to buy a range of different technologies. Here is our viewpoint on the best approach to your next technology selection process.
Selection Process Best Practices
Cast your initial net wide - at the 'longlist' phase of the process, it's important to cast the net wide and speak to a range of technology providers. What you are looking for at this stage are ideas and suggestions for your project. You are really using the opportunity to gain some free advice and to start to collect the vendors that might be worthy of taking to your shortlist.
Ask for solutions to your problem - at this stage, don't be prescriptive, let the vendors know your business challenges and what items you need to solve with the technology. Let them come back with how they would approach your problem.
Restrict your shortlist to a maximum of 4 vendors - it's important to make sure you spend enough time on the initial market assessment and only then shortlist to a small, manageable number of vendors. We find that 4 vendors is ideal. It is extremely unlikely that your 5th choice ends up being your preferred vendor. More than 4 vendors on the shortlist can prolong the process and make life more difficult than it needs to be.
Consider whether you need to issue an RFP - an RFP is the standard mechanism to run a selection process to a conclusion, but is it the right thing to do for you and your need? If you do decide to run an RFP, consider the size and shape of it and how many questions you are asking. It's vital to keep it short and to the point - and to not make it a burden for your final vendor options or you may find they qualify out of your process. There are alternatives - one example is our 'Meet My Need' process.
Assess your final two options carefully - the final selection, of who will be your 'preferred vendor' can be difficult, and it can become quite political for some businesses. Spend time making an informed decision. We advocate a 'head-to-head' comparison across the key criteria that important to you. You can read more about this kind of approach at https://www.viewpointanalysis.com/head-to-head
What You Should Aim For
Your vendor selection process should aim for the following:
A quick assessment - taking no more than 2 months from start to finish.
A demonstratable decision - you should be able to explain how you conducted the process and why one vendor was selected over another.
Support from your team - your final decision should be supported by your key team members and management team.
Vendor support - you need all of your options on the table. This means that all the vendors need to be happy to be a part of your process and know what they need to do in order to be successful.
Avoid being prescriptive - accept that you do not know more about the vendor's technology and capability than they do. Let them explain how they can help.
Deliver on your commitments - if you ask your vendors to meet your expectations, you need to reciprocate and meet the expectations that you have set. Ensure you meet timescales. Keep them updated on the next steps.
Technology selection need not be complicated. It should not take too much time. It should be simple for all parties concerned. Try not to follow the same old process that your business has followed before. There are a variety of ways to run a selection process, try different things and be confident in your approach. Following the simple steps and guidelines above will give you some parameters to work within.
If you need help, Viewpoint Analysis can support you at every step of the process.
Looking for ideas? - try our Technology Options and Ideas Matchmaker.
Doing an initial market assessment? - take a look at the Project Matchmaker.
Running a selection process? - we have two different approaches.
Selection help? - check out our Purchase Assurance area.
Need someone to do the full process from ideas to selection - here it is.