Monday, August 9, 2010

Technology Selection Advice - Janders Dean Throws Some Thoughts Down

Many thanks to Mark Gould for pulling one of our recent comments from out of The Orange Rag and adding it to his blog.

What we said was as follows - the caveat is that it is informal piece from us in response to a few stirring software vendor comments regarding which "system" is "better". So we thought we would throw in some common sense to give back to the community, and in doing so, share the Janders Dean "All About the Letter P" Selection Matrix.

Here you go...

Selecting a practice management system (or almost any other system) obviously comes down to a number of factors which should be weighted differently for each firm based on their technology adoption position, their history, their investment appetite, and their requirements. Which "product" is "better "is rarely what defines a success or failure when shooting various products off against each other.

We believe that the following is a useful guide, and one that Janders Dean use with all clients when walking them through selection issues (we call it the P matrix - every consultant needs a good matrix).

Product - yep, product is important, but given that we all know the industry usually has a selection of Product A or Product B (with Product C thrown in as a stalking horse), we all know that they can do the same job. It comes down then to which company presents better during the long weeks of demonstrations to users, and which answers the 800 line RFP with the most imagination. Not many firms we work with put the highest importance or priority on this area.

Price - not only in relation to the software, but the professional services, the third party professional services, the internal costs, the impact costs, annual money for nothing costs, the costs of training, servers, etc, etc. This is where the creative discounting comes in, and the negotiation powers of the procurement departments. Not all firms have the same budget year on year, and not all have the same managing partner or Finance Director. In the same way, not all have the same PPEP each year.

Platform - does the technical infrastructure and architecture of this product integrate seamlessly with my firm's? Will I be left out on a technical limb in 5-10 years time by purchasing this? Does the platform require unique skills to be kept in house forever?

Peers - who is using what and how are they going with it is important. Not just from a "keeping up with the industry/Joneses" but also from a "who will have input into the development roadmap of this product", and a "how short staffed or not is the industry in the application skills", not to mention a "how productive and useful is the wider user community in helping each other".

Parent - how has the parent company performed? What are their plans for building or dumping this particular product or (worse) industry vertical? What other areas do they focus on? Where are they based? What has been their track record in buying, building, supporting? Are they committed to this geographical region?

Performance - similar to the above - what has the performance of the product and the vendor been like in the past 3-5 years in our region?

Position - what is the technology adoption position of the firm in relation to being either an early adopter, fast follower or "I'll go last thanks" perspective? Will a decision between Product A and Product B go against the firm's adoption position?

Professional Services - are they indeed "professional" services? Where are they based? What are their skills? How long have they done this for, and at which peer firms? How much do they cost? Do they know the behaviours of lawyers and support personnel enough? Can we get a reference for each individual one of them? Will the vendor place their names in the contract? Do my people get on with their people? Are they bullies, trusted advisors, or "yes" people? Do they add value?

People - are the other "people" within the vendor organisation up to scratch? Do we trust and like the sales team, the support team, the management team (domestic and international)?

That was it folks. Thanks again to Mark for the Tweet and blog mentions. The full piece can be found
here with the thread of all comments from The Orange Rag here.

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