Editor’s note: This is the second part of a two-part series, originally published on the PSASoftware Web site, a site run by PSA vendor Account4, as “Five Keys to PSA selection success.” The first installment covered assessing your organization buy-in.
Before your first product demonstration, it is important that you identify your requirements for a PSA solution. This does not have to be extremely detailed. In fact, too many details can bog down your evaluation process.
Instead, outline your requirements for application, technology, and vendor attributes at a high level, and keep an open mind throughout the evaluation. You can fine-tune your requirements as you learn more about what these solutions offer. Here are some questions you should ask as you get started:
- Who will use the product? (i.e., departments, size, scalability, locations)
- What business functionality is relevant? (i.e., opportunity management, workforce planning and scheduling, time and expense reporting, project management)
- How sophisticated or rigorous are the planning processes?
- How much process/cultural change can you tolerate?
- How much integration is needed?
- What is your implementation/training budget and time frame?
- Is Internet availability/access required? By which users?
- Should it be easy to tailor or customize?
- Do you require interfacing capabilities?
- What are the platform requirements?
- What are the implementation and maintenance budgets?
- Will the software be hosted internally or through an ASP model?
- What is their implementation track record?
- Do they have references?
- Can they develop/work with your organization?
- Are they committed to PSA?
- Are they financially viable?
- Are they ethical?
- What are the software license fees?
- What are your consulting and training budgets?
- Will it cost much to tailor?
- Is it inexpensive to operate/own?
Performing due diligence
Employ a standard Request for Information (RFI) and Request for Quote (RFQ) tool and tailor it to your business requirements. This will help you evaluate products on a level playing field, and will keep your initial comparisons simple and on track.
There are a number of checklists, standard RFPs, and solution comparisons available via the Internet to help you get started. Get a PSA RFQ Tool here.
Ask vendors to provide product demonstrations that address your business needs. The goal here is not to replicate your processes, but to gain a comfort that the product can adapt to your internal processes. Their willingness to do so may be indicative of the kind of service you can expect during your implementation.
Involve senior management and other departments that are supporting your PSA initiative. Get the decision makers in the room whenever possible to keep the selection process moving full steam ahead.
On-site or pilot
After narrowing the field to one or two products that fit your needs, it may be time for a test drive. This is your chance to check under the hood to see what the product and vendor are made of. This is a particularly good idea if you anticipate an unorthodox implementation (i.e., very large scale, highly tailored, far reaching, etc.).
Visit face-to-face with the senior management of any PSA vendor that you may select. This may require some additional time and money, but do you really want to enter into this partnership without meeting your counterpart(s)? Which of them share your vision and business philosophy? Which of them are committed to your success? Which do you believe in?
Check your gut
At this point, the vendor/product has met your requirements. Check your gut. Which vendor/product gives you the best chance to succeed? Ultimately, that is what matters most.
What else do you check?
If you are able to, check the process that PSASoftware recommends against what you do. What do you do differently? Are there components that you would add? Start a discussion below.