- Gartner provides terrible infomation for software selection and is paid off by a wide variety of vendors.
- Why Gartner can’t be used for software selection.
Companies rely upon IT analyst firms in order to determine which software to buy. IT analysts are often relied upon to explain the state of the market to corporate software buyers. The most influential IT analyst firm is Gartner, and Gartner’s most influential analytical product is called the Magic Quadrant.
An example of a Magic Quadrant is shown on the following page:
According to Gartner,
“Magic Quadrants depict markets in the middle phases of their lifecycle….”
Depending upon how the software vendor rates, they are placed into one of the following four quadrants. These quadrant descriptions are from Gartner’s publication Inside Gartner Research.
- Leaders: “Leaders provide mature offerings that meet today’s market demand. These providers also demonstrate the vision necessary to sustain their leading position as the market evolves. Leaders focus and invest in their offerings in ways that impact and influence the market’s overall direction.”
- Visionaries: “Visionaries align with the Gartner view of how a market will evolve, but they have less-proven capabilities to deliver against their vision. In new markets, this status is normal. But in more mature markets, it may reflect a competitive strategy for a smaller provider (such as selling innovation ahead of mainstream demand), or a larger provider trying to break out of a rut to differentiate.”
- Challengers: “Challengers are well positioned to execute, but may not have a strategy in place to maintain strong, up-to-date value propositions for new customers. Larger providers in mature markets may often be positioned as challengers because they choose to minimize risk. Although challengers typically have significant human and financial resources, they may lack vision, innovation or overall understanding of where the market is headed. In some cases, challengers may offer products that dominate a large but shrinking segment of the market. Challengers have the opportunity to move into the leaders’ quadrant by expanding their vision.”
- Niche Players: “Niche players do well in a specific market segment or they have limited ability to innovate or outperform other providers. This may be because they focus on a functionality or geographic region, or they are new entrants to the market. Assessing niche players is more challenging than assessing providers in other quadrants. While some niche players could make progress, others do not execute well and may not be able to keep pace with broader market demands.”
According to my interviews with Gartner, buyers should use the Magic Quadrant independently of Gartner’s analysts. Furthermore, buyers should not interpret a Magic Quadrant as a recommendation to concentrate on those vendors that appear in the Leader quadrant. Gartner agrees that there is a misimpression that being categorized in the Niche quadrant is a bad thing. In fact, a vendor in a non-leader quadrant might be the best vendor for a particular buyer.
The Magic Quadrant Methodology
As has been previously stated, Gartner publishes only a high-level overview as to how it determines the Magic Quadrant rankings. People who read Gartner’s analytical products, especially the most influential products, can only review a high-level graphic, which is the output of the research. To find out more details and speak with an analyst, one must pay more, but Gartner does publish the criteria that count toward each axis. These criteria, quoted from Gartner’s article Magic Quadrants and MarketScopes: How Gartner Evaluates Vendors Within a Market, are listed below.
Orientation of the Magic Quadrant Methodology
Something that was surprising to me (and is surprising to many people the first time I tell them about these criteria) is that only six of the fifteen bullet points (40%) are in any way related to the actual application offered by the vendor, which are the bullet points with two asterisks in front of them. Only two of the fifteen bullet points (13.3%) are directly related to the application. These are the bullet points with one asterisk next to them. However, these percentages are based simply upon an even weighting of the criteria. Gartner does not explain if they weight the criteria equally or not, so that is all I have to go by for this analysis. After reviewing many Magic Quadrants as part of the research for this book, it does appear as if the criteria are equally weighted.
Completeness of Vision Criterion
*“Market Understanding: The ability of a vendor to understand buyers’ needs and translate these needs into products and services. A vendor that shows the highest degree of vision listens and understands buyers’ wants and needs, which it can shape or enhance with its vision.
Marketing Strategy: A clear, differentiated set of messages consistently communicated throughout the organization and publicized through the Web site, advertising, customer programs and positioning statements.
Sales Strategy: A strategy for selling products that uses the appropriate network of direct and indirect sales, marketing, service and communication affiliates to extend the scope and depth of a vendor’s market reach, skills, expertise, technologies, services and customer base.
*Offering (Product) Strategy: A vendor’s approach to product development and delivery that relate to current and future requirements.
Business Model: The validity and logic of a vendor’s underlying business proposition.
Vertical/Industry Strategy: A vendor’s strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the needs of market segments, including vertical industries.
**Innovation: Marshaling of resources, expertise or capital for competitive advantage, investment, consolidation or defense against acquisition.
Geographic Strategy: A vendor’s strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the needs of regions outside of the vendor’s ‘home’ or native area, directly or through partners, channels and subsidiaries, as appropriate for that region and market.”
Ability to Execute Criterion
*“Product/Service: Core goods and services offered by the vendor that compete in and serve the market. This category includes product and service capabilities, quality, feature sets and skills, offered natively or through original equipment manufacturers, as defined in the market definition and detailed in sub criteria. 2
Overall Viability: Includes an assessment of the vendor’s overall financial health, the financial and practical success of the relevant business unit, and the likelihood of that business unit to continue to invest in and offer the product within the vendor’s product portfolio.
Sales Execution/Pricing: The vendor’s capabilities in pre-sales activities and the structure that supports them. This criterion includes deal management, pricing and negotiation, pre-sales support and the overall effectiveness of the sales channel.
Market Responsiveness and Track Record: Ability to respond, change direction, be flexible and achieve competitive success as opportunities develop, competitors act, customer needs evolve and market dynamics change. This criterion also considers the vendor’s history of responsiveness.
Marketing Execution: The clarity, quality, creativity and efficacy of programs designed to deliver the vendor’s message, to influence the market, promote its brand and business, increase awareness of its products and establish a positive identification with the product, brand or vendor with buyers. This ‘mind share’ can be driven by a combination of publicity, promotions, thought leadership, word of mouth and sales activities.
*Customer Experience: Relationships, products, and services and programs that enable clients to succeed with the products evaluated. This criterion includes the ways customers receive technical support or account support. It can also include ancillary tools, customer support programs (and their quality), availability of user groups and service-level agreements.
*Operations: The vendor’s ability to meet its goals and commitments. Factors include the quality of the organizational structure, such as skills, experiences, programs, systems and other vehicles, that enable the vendor to operate effectively and efficiently.”
Understanding Gartner’s Criteria
Gartner is of course free to use any set of criteria that they like. However, I find that few people actually read what their criteria in fact are, and most software buyers are under the impression that Gartner’s ratings are much more product- focused than they actually are. In fact, most of Gartner’s criteria are really just proxies for the size of the software vendor.
Gartner Report Adjustment Rules
Because a number of biases are present in Gartner’s analytical products (which are both financial and non financial), it is important to adjust the Magic Quadrant, and other of Gartner’s offerings in specific ways. I address how these biases can be demonstrated in the book, Gartner and the Magic Quadrant: A Guide for Buyers, Vendors and Investors and will offer a preview in the rest of this chapter. However, in this chapter I only explain how Gartner’s ratings can be adjusted rather than the why this is the case with Gartner’s ratings.
Never Use Just the Gartner Magic Quadrant to Make a Purchasing Decision
This point should be self-evident, especially if you have read the rest of the book up to this point. According to Louis Columbus, “IT buyers regrettably sometimes make their entire purchasing decision just on the Quadrant alone.”
It is hard to know where to begin as there are so many reasons not to do this, but as I have explained, Gartner’s methodology for their Magic Quadrants includes factors that have nothing to do with the benefit to enterprise software buyers. Instead, the criteria are metrics that could be used by investors contemplating buying the software vendor’s stock. Secondly, even Gartner does not want buyers or investors making decisions based simply upon the Magic Quadrant or any other research they produce. One should consider the research produced by Gartner as a “starter kit” to start the ball rolling for more analysis, contracting with Gartner for more analyst services, etc.
Adjust the Rankings for the Vendor’s Size
Gartner prefers large software vendors. This large vendor orientation is clear, and it is difficult to see how a person doing a complete analysis on this topic could find that this bias does not exist. I hope that the analysis from Chapter 5: “The Magic Quadrant” has made that clear. On the web there are several statements by Gartner analysts that Gartner does not favor large vendors. Other than managing perception, I can’t think of a single good reason for anyone to say this. To believe that Gartner does not favor large vendors, one would have to both not understand the various Gartner methodologies and not read the Gartner research output. A vendor’s size is not a universal positive. Bigger vendors are less responsive, particularly if the buyer is not a large client. Because bigger vendors offer a broader set of products, they are constantly trying to capture more and more footprint within their existing clients, and they are not going to be happy selling a single application to a client. Larger vendors are less focused on their products, less focused on R&D, and more focused on marketing and on their partnerships with major consulting companies. One of the reasons I enjoy keeping up with smaller best-of-breed vendors is because they have less bureaucracy, and they engage in far more innovation than the big vendors. I implement the software of the large vendors, and when I visit smaller vendors, I always feel as if I have traveled forward in time because the approaches we follow in SAP are so dated. I essentially implement approaches and technologies that are little changed from the mid-1990s. And of course, bigger vendors are more expensive. So, the bigger vendors in any Magic Quadrant are simply overrated by Gartner. The best way to account for this is by reducing their rating although I cannot provide a specific percentage adjustment.
Reality into Gartner’s Ratings
Generally speaking, Gartner analysts do not have hands-on experience with the applications they are rating. Most of the Gartner analysts have at least fifteen years of experience in their area, so it is not that they lack experience but they usually lack implementation experience. Gartner analysts do speak with people in companies that implement software, but they speak at the level of CIOs and vice presidents. This constant interaction with senior executives at companies that buy enterprise software is a main reason why working for Gartner is considered such a good place to create contacts for future careers. However, these high-level people do not use the applications that they purchase; they pass along information to Gartner analysts that is already second-hand! While executives at buyers certainly know the problems that they face on implementations, overseeing implementations and actually working with the software are two different things.
Steps to Increase Reality of the Software Selection
Now that we have established that Gartner’s ratings require more reality, the question is “how.” An effective software selection will combine the high-level analysis provided by Gartner (provided either by reading research or by interacting with Gartner analysts) with more detailed analysis of:
- How the application actually works
- How the employees of the company will actually use the application
- How it will be configured and fit in with the rest of the company’s footprint
Unfortunately, this is a lot more work and cannot be done by those who are the decision makers for the software selection. So, this more detailed work tends not to get done. However, it should be done—if not for all the applications under consideration then at the very least for the applications that the company finds the most intriguing. This applies to both buyers and investors, and is accomplished by having technical resources participate in the software selection process. I have no idea why so many executives think they are qualified to analyze statements made by presales consultants, but usually presentations are made to buyers with no one in the meeting from the buyer’s side who can validate the technical statements made by the vendor’s representatives.
Finding Technical Fact Checkers
Many times individuals with technical backgrounds can be pulled from the buyer’s IT department. However, this is not always the case, especially if there is no one familiar with the category of application being analyzed. Viewing demos that are performed by a vendor’s most skilled presales consultants is not a good way to truly understand an application. Rather than scripted demos, a more reality-based approach is to allow the reviewers to ask more questions and drive more of the demo.
Adjust Down the Rate of Predicted Change
Gartner tends to overestimate the amount of change that occurs in any one software category, as well as the business developments in that category. Also, Gartner will describe industry trends as being more legitimate and permanent than they actually are. For instance, in my area, many companies have initiatives to move toward a make- to-order environment; however, because of the limitations of the approach most never will. This falls under the category of a “pipe dream.” It’s easy to get the impression that because Gartner learns about these initiatives from senior executives within the buying companies, Gartner tends to take their word for it that most of these initiatives will succeed, when in fact a higher percentage may fail. This dynamic applies equally on both the buyer and the vendor side, as Gartner will frequently get on-board with a new technology initiative before a vendor and before that initiative has had the time to prove itself. For instance, in my field Gartner has been a major proponent of something called SAP HANA. However, while the volume of the talk about Hana has been turned up for several years, I have yet to see its effect on any of my projects. I do not want to digress, as this is a separate and technical topic, but SAP HANA is really just something SAP should be doing anyway without a massive marketing offensive. It is simply a way to leverage evolving hardware and database technologies, and is really no big deal. In fact, I am surprised SAP and other vendors had not provided these options years earlier, as I began leveraging them myself on my own hardware several years ago. As I have stated previously, very little innovation happens at large software vendors. Small vendors put in the R&D and take the risk, and the large vendors copy the technology and crank up the marketing volume. When you control your customer base and have relationships with large consulting companies that recommend your product no matter its utility to their clients, innovation is simply not necessary. This is discussed in detail in the article SAP’s Negative Innovation. I have witnessed several innovations that no IT analyst firm has written anything about (one of which I covered in the book Supply Chain Forecasting Software). After a large firm has copied the technology, I assume I will read about how great it is in a Gartner report, maybe five years from now. In any case Gartner jumped on the Hana bandwagon while it was simply an experimental product.
If HANA were released from a smaller vendor, it is highly unlikely that it would have been promoted by Gartner. As I hope the example above demonstrates, Gartner is well known for its Hype Cycle analysis, but Gartner itself will help drive a Hype Cycle to the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” (using Gartner’s own Hype Cycle terminology). Often they are more swayed by how much “sense” a vendor’s explanation seems to be over how it actually works in practice. Unfortunately, a lot of things seem like a good idea or seem to make sense but don’t necessarily take flight. For example, SaaS was supposed to be the next great thing, but its adoption has been slow. Hypothetically, Gartner’s frequent interaction with buyers should enable them to keep from doing this. However, my research into their past reports indicate that this is a consistent theme of Gartner despite their access to buyers that would allow them to validate vendors’ statements. Therefore, Gartner’s reports should be adjusted and deferred. Whatever Gartner is predicting, it almost certainly will not happen as quickly as predicted. It should be understood that while many buyers may be moving in a particular direction, many will not be successful. Many initiatives are simply trends, and when they peter out, they are renamed. In my area, there is an initiative referred to as “lean,” a rebranding of many identical initiatives of JIT (just in time), which mostly flamed out back in the 1980s. Lean is already running its course, and after it is not longer sellable, the consultants will come up with a new name for the same philosophies. There are now roughly half a million books on “lean,” but the actual impact on inventory management?
The benefit to consulting revenues of consultancies promoting lean concepts? Priceless. Likewise, vendors frequently bring out new ideas and products, but most of these developments tend to be transitory and some are really just rebranding of old concepts by sales and marketing. Secondly, beyond time-phasing Gartner’s predictions, many of their projections will never come to pass. When reviewing Gartner’s past predictions, I found this repeatedly. Gartner’s Hype Cycle proposes a consistent and eventual movement of technologies to the “Plateau of Productivity.” However, some technologies or ideas are never implemented broadly and many disappear all together.
When No Magic Quadrant Exists
One of the biggest obstacles that a buyer or analyst can face is when there is no Magic Quadrant for the software category of interest. When Gartner decides to create a Magic Quadrant for a group of products or a software suite, it is impossible for a company that only makes a single product to compete in that type of analysis. Secondly, it is generally inadvisable for a buyer to implement multiple products from one suite. Doing this means using a vendor’s weak products along with its stronger products, and in fact is the primary way that bad products are able to get sold. Without a connection to an ERP system, or as part of a suite, it is much more difficult for a bad product to get purchased. Also, once the analysis moves to the suite level, the business tends to get the short end of the stick, because at that point it simply becomes more about integration, and the functionality becomes an afterthought. Nevertheless, software suites has been a common approach to IT implementation for several decades. While the concept was that there would be fewer integration issues if software suites were implemented, this approach has not meant the reduction in integration costs that were promised by ERP systems. This is explained in the book, The Real Story Behind ERP: Separating Fact from Fiction. Furthermore, this has meant that the business does not get the software it needs. Software selection based on software suites does not emphasize each application, but instead emphasizes the suite. As explained in this quote from Christopher Koch of CIO Magazine, software suites themselves are mechanisms that reduce the competition a vendor must face.
“Indeed, integration standards interfere with ERP vendors’ traditional ways of gaining and keeping customers and market share. Before the Web came along, your integration strategy was simple: Buy as many pre integrated applications from a single vendor as possible. That worked for you, and it worked extremely well for the vendor; integrated application suites fetched a high price and required long- term maintenance and support contracts that promised a steady, predictable stream of revenue from customers.” —ABCs of ERP
I have now seen many poor-performing applications implemented and a great deal of frustration on the part of business users and managers who were not delivered applications that ever had a chance of meeting their requirements. Such high-level Magic Quadrants are not useful to a company that is selecting an application that is a subcategory of that Magic Quadrant. If a company is looking to select one or multiple products from a suite, it’s difficult to see how a high-level Magic Quadrant of this type can be adjusted. Some detail about specific applications can be provided in the vendor description section, but this is simply not enough detail to support an informed decision. At this point, the Gartner analyst must be contacted, and there is little value that can be received from the Magic Quadrant by itself.
Adjusting for Functionality and Maintainability
Gartner employs analysts with a strong tendency to look at the bigger (biggest?) possible picture. Gartner looks at so many factors outside of how good the application actually is and how maintainable the solution is, that these most important factors are under-emphasized. Corporate buyers should strive to obtain the software that closely matches their business requirements and has the very best functionality. Gartner essentially tells buyers that the application is really just one component to the decision, but the problem is that Gartner has too many factors pulling their ratings away from practical software implementation criteria. This can be addressed by checking reference accounts and by asking the Gartner analyst how the various vendors performed on the surveys for functionality and maintainability.
Disregarding Gartner’s Deeper Technology Insights and Predictions
In their reports, Gartner will sometimes make technology projections or try to describe the technology. I have found quite a few of these statements to be unreliable. Gartner shows no evidence of being predictive; there is no reason to pay attention to their predictions.7 Furthermore, Gartner’s technology prediction opinions have been lampooned in numerous articles on the Internet, by authors who are experts in that particular category of technology. A number of the technology predictions I have read seem to have been designed to create a splash, rather than to stand the test of time. One that definitely sticks out as ludicrous was the prediction by Gartner that the Windows Phone would become the second most popular smartphone platform between 2012 and 2015 and account for 19.5% market share. 2015 is not yet upon us, but the Windows Phone has only 3.2% market share. Another example is taken from their prediction on SaaS, which is a quotation I also used in Chapter 2.
“‘Up until now, the unique nature of the software market has meant that buyers had very little negotiating power after the initial purchase of a software license,’ Gartner Vice President William Snyder said in a research note. ‘We expect those dynamics to change considerably over the next 5 to 10 years, giving CIOs and software procurement officers more bargaining power while potentially reducing software vendor profit margins.’”
“Gartner also predicts that a fourth of all new business software will be delivered by software as a service by 2011.”
Software costs have not significantly declined as predicted by Gartner. Gartner also overshot their second prediction that a fourth of all software would be delivered as SaaS by 2011. As of 2012, software delivered by SaaS represents only 4% of total software sales. Granted, SaaS software is less expensive than on-premises software, so the number of seats served is no doubt higher than its sales percentage. But it’s difficult to see how the delivery of SaaS as a percentage of all enterprise software would be anywhere close to the 25% value of software delivery estimated by Gartner. Was this bad analysis on the part of Gartner? Based upon the enormous advantages that SaaS has in terms of cost and time to deploy, as well as the efficiency of central administration by the vendor, I believe Gartner’s projections were reasonable at the time. However, what many people who predicted a faster growth failed to consider were issues ranging from security concerns to the lower customizability of SaaS solutions, as well as the perception of integration issues that prevented SaaS from taking off as initially expected. The fact of the matter is that technology prediction is a difficult business. However, Gartner is not correct enough of the time for it to be taken seriously. Gartner has not demonstrated any special aptitude for technology prediction. On the other hand, if your client base does not notice Gartner’s prediction track record, and if the bold predictions make for good marketing copy, then I suppose there is no reason to stop. For those looking for technology predictions, Forrester has a better reputation for being right more often than Gartner. Gartner does not account for price in their rankings. Instead they compare all products as if they are in the same cost category. This approach creates a bias toward more expensive products. In addition, because Gartner’s methodology ranks larger vendors higher, Gartner’s recommendation tend to push buyers to higher-priced products and products that result in higher consulting costs. (Larger vendors tend to have both higher acquisition costs and higher consulting costs.) Therefore, it makes the most sense to adjust Gartner’s ratings for price. Unfortunately, this is not an easy task. There are few software vendors like Arena Solutions and Demand Works that post the cost of their software on their websites. In fact, in many years working in the field of software implementation, I am rarely informed of the actual costs of the software being installed. Many vendors are cagey about their price; among a host of factors, the price depends upon the number of seats and how much the software vendor wants the account. Determining the actual costs is time-consuming and requires a significant amount of interaction with the software vendor so they can “understand their requirements.” Gartner is perfectly positioned to provide some type of rough approximation of the cost of the software, which could allow buyers to put some vendors out of their cost range. They are also well-positioned to estimate the consulting/implementation and maintenance costs of the different vendors per software category. However, if a company does not want to use a Gartner analyst to answer these questions, the company can adjust for Gartner’s large vendor bias (and by extension their bias toward expensive solutions bias). They can push a smaller vendor up in consideration in order to account for lower cost and better value, if of course the vendor has other compelling factors. This leads to the next area of adjustment.
Adjusting for the Buying Company’s Size
Gartner’s bias toward larger vendors is related partially to Gartner’s belief that companies prefer (or should prefer) to buy from the largest vendors. However, while larger buyers may prefer to purchase from larger vendors, it is less true of smaller buyers. Of course, Gartner’s largest customers are the biggest companies in the world. I do not know if smaller buyers would prefer buying from larger buyers if they could afford to do so, but the fact is that smaller buyers often can’t. Generally small innovative vendors offer point solutions, have small deal sizes, and sell to small buyers. As the vendor grows, it is able to increase the size of buyers to which it sells. Therefore, Gartner’s ratings fit the preferences (and checkbook) of large buyers far more than they do for smaller companies. Experience over time will let the smaller buyer know who they can afford to buy from, so for smaller buyers it is a simple matter to remove all or the majority of the largest vendors from their list and to focus on the other vendors.
While Gartner publishes reports, companies that buy subscriptions receive only a small percentage of their research. In order to maximize their revenues they prefer to deliver more information by having clients consult with analysts. The downslide to this of course is that consulting is more expensive. This chapter is designed to prepare buyers to work in a more cost effective manner with Gartner. One should consider the research produced by Gartner as a “starter kit” to start the ball rolling for more analysis, contracting with Gartner for more analyst services, etc. Gartner’s research can be adjusted by adjusting downward the rankings for the larger vendors, as they are inflated. Secondly, as an implementer myself, Gartner’s research often makes me uncomfortable because it is at such a high level. In the software categories that are my areas of expertise, the analyst writing the report clearly does not have enough hands-on experience to explain the reality of the implementation issues that will be faced during the implementation, and a consultation with the analyst is not going to change their knowledge level. Gartner does a nice job of using surveys to uncover implementation challenges faced by clients with different software, but even still, this does not adequately find its way back into the Magic Quadrant ratings as my example of the highly problematic SAP BW product should demonstrate. This chapter explained how to add more reality into the software selection process, and I consider this to be one of the most important parts of software selection. Adjusting down the predicted rate of change is necessary because Gartner tends to overestimate this in their analysis. Initiatives are frequently announced with great fanfare, but most of them fail to find any purchase within organizations. Executives both overestimate the degree of innovation occurring within their own companies, and are naturally persuasive individuals, which is a major reason they have the positions that they do. Gartner often appears to be drinking the Kool-Aid, which is served by the buyers they interview. However, there is an optimism bias as the executives will always be confident of new initiatives within the company. Gartner’s Kool-Aid drinking extends to vendors as well, particularly large vendors. Another area that must be adjusted is functionality and maintainability. Gartner underestimates the importance of both of these dimensions of software implementation.
The functionality is critical to the ROI and probability of success of the implementation. Because Gartner underemphasizes functionality, it has the consequence of promoting the purchase of riskier applications. In terms of maintainability, Gartner had clear evidence of the maintenance problems with SAP BW, yet they continued to list SAP in the leader quadrant. Certainly, the fact that SAP is the largest business intelligence software vendor makes them a “leader” in terms of their market share—and this is of course quite important to investors. However, it’s unclear how simply having a large market share helps an application be maintained by a buyer. If the lowest quality offering, an application with very significant implementation and maintainability issues can be listed in the Leader quadrant, then Gartner’s Magic Quadrant must be adjusted by buyers because these dimensions are of more importance to the buyer than they are being weighted by Gartner. The price of applications, therefore, must be adjusted by buyers. Gartner does not rate either the actual application cost, nor the TCO in the Magic Quadrant, so the most expensive solutions are placed on equal footing with the least expensive. However, the price is important to buyers and therefore, looking at a Magic Quadrant without adding price into the equation would not make much sense.
Software Selection Book
Enterprise Software Selection: How to Pinpoint the Perfect Software Solution Using Multiple Sources of Information
What the Book Covers
Essential reading for success in your next software selection and implementation.
Software selection is the most important task in a software implementation project, as it is your best (if not only) opportunity to make sure that the right software—the software that matches the business requirements—is being implemented. Choosing the software that is the best fit clears the way for a successful implementation, yet software selection is often fraught with issues and many companies do not end up with the best software for their needs. However, the process can be greatly simplified by addressing the information sources that influence software selection. This book can be used for any enterprise software selection, including ERP software selection.
This book is a how-to guide for improving the software selection process and is formulated around the idea that—much like purchasing decisions for consumer products—the end user and those with the domain expertise must be included. In addition to providing hints for refining the software selection process, this book delves into the often-overlooked topic of how consulting and IT analyst firms influence the purchasing decision, and gives the reader an insider’s understanding of the enterprise software market.
By reading this book you will:
- Learn how to apply a scientific approach to the software selection process.
- Interpret vendor-supplied information to your best advantage. This is generally left out of books on software selection. However, consulting companies and IT analysts like Gartner have very specific biases. Gartner is paid directly by software vendors — a fact they make every attempt not to disclose while consulting companies only recommend software for vendors that give them the consulting business. Consulting companies all have an enormous financial bias that prevents them from offering honest advice — and this is part of their business model.
- Understand what motivates a software vendor.
- Learn how the institutional structure and biases of consulting firms affect the advice they give you, and understand how to properly interpret information from consulting companies.
- Make vendor demos work to your benefit.
- Know the right questions to ask on topics such as integration with existing software, cloud versus on-premise vendors, and client references.
- Differentiate what is important to know about software for improved “implement-ability” versus what the vendor thinks is important for improved “sell-ability.”
- Better manage your software selection projects to ensure smoother implementations.
- Chapter 1: Introduction to Software Selection
- Chapter 2: Understanding the Enterprise Software Market
- Chapter 3: Software Sell-ability versus Implement-ability
- Chapter 4: How to Use Consulting Advice on Software Selection
- Chapter 5: How to Use the Reports of Analyst Firms Like Gartner
- Chapter 6: How to Use Information Provided by Vendors
- Chapter 7: How to Manage the Software Selection Process