Software Selection Guide

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A Step-by-Step Plan for Gathering User Needs,
then Accurately Evaluating and Selecting the
Software Best Suited to YOUR Needs!


Software Requirements Checklists

Select Software More Accurately By Collecting User Needs at the Daily Operational Level!

Eliminate the unforeseen (or overlooked) software requirements that cause many projects to go over-budget and fall behind schedule by identifying user needs at the daily operational level. This is true since problems with the user interface, information access, reporting, and workflow are readily apparent at that level and can be easily identified. But creating the detailed requirements list needed for that level is very difficult. Creating a list of all the software selection requirements needed could take weeks since it requires extensive user interviews and large amounts of research time.
The solution is to use the detailed software features found in an Infotivity RFP requirements list as a feature checklist during the user needs assessment phase of a software selection project. Simply distribute it to users via email or web download, and let them mark each feature as "Needed" or "Not Needed" in the Importance Level column! Doing this ensures that all software requirements are defined in detail in the early stages of choosing software, enabling the decisions needed in later stages to be made using a complete set of information. Note that each RFP Template Toolkit includes a complete set of detailed user needs and requirements identification tools designed for all stages of a software selection project (also available separately).
Enhance and streamline all steps of the software selection process through the use of a full and complete set of software requirements. Each step is addressed below.
Eliminate wasted time caused by implementation do-overs and functional deficiencies. .

The Software Selection Process

Project Scope (Domain) - Clearly defining the boundaries of a new system, i.e., exactly where and how it will integrate with, or interface with, other systems, procedures, and departments is known as establishing the "project scope" (a.k.a. project domain) of a new system project. The extensive RFP requirements list makes identifying these integration points much easier. Having this information in detail form in advance will help you select the system best for your immediate and long-term needs, and manage the entire project, more effectively. Each Infotivity RFP Requirements Toolkit includes a User Work Distribution Chart (WDC) to record where a user spends time each day, and a detailed Project Scope Checklist to ensure accurate Project Scope definition.

Project Planning - The tasks of identifying what needs to be improved, and in what order, are critical. Typically, the departments or procedures that offer the biggest return on the initial investment of time, people, and money are included in Phase one of any new software deployment. This sounds deceptively simple, but in actuality becomes very complex when data conversion, user training, and system software issues come into play. A comprehensive requirements list becomes very useful at this stage because it enables accurate collection of time used and problems at each step of a business process. Each Infotivity RFP Requirements Toolkit includes two tools useful at this point, a complete GAP-Fit Analysis matrix to document software and procedural problems, and a detailed User Problem Identification tool for capturing and documenting productivity information.

RFP Preparation - Using the RFP Template is covered in more detail on the Software Selection RFP page - Step 3.

RFP Distribution - Distributing the final RFP to vendors is covered in more detail on the Software Selection RFP page - Step 4.

Vendor Proposal Evaluation - Without a comprehensive list of requirements to use as a yardstick it is impossible to evaluate vendor proposal in a QUANTITATIVE manner that ensures all responses are reviewed in a consistent, objective, unbiased manner. Also, each vendor proposal is different when there is no common measuring stick - the request for proposal! Each Infotivity RFP Requirements Toolkit includes many tools useful at this point, such as a detailed Side-by-Side Features Comparison Matrix and a Evaluation Scorecard, and a Vendor Proposal Analysis.

Cost/Benefit Analysis - Request for Proposal (RFP) preparation sets the stage for good cost/benefit analysis, and ensures the best product or system is selected! Why? Only after all departmental needs are identified, and how these needs affect other units in your company, is it possible to reliably forecast future savings. Proper RFP preparation ensures accurate financial analysis of all vendor responses! Each RFP Template Requirements Toolkit includes an in-depth set of Financial Ratio Calculation tool for determining the financial impact of each proposed system.
Without an accurate future savings forecast, it is impossible to calculate the financial impact of a proposed product. Creating a meaningful RFP ensures all operational and procedural needs and related efficiency improvements are identified. This enables you to enjoy the benefits of full weighted grade point score suitability and cost/benefit analysis when evaluating vendor RFP responses!

System Implementation - Project planning does not stop when system implementation begins - it is an on-going part of any good project management formula! The criteria established when creating a properly organized RFP are vey helpful in determining the best training options, answering the many minor system configuration questions that will come up, and in making major decisions about what to do if a completely unforeseen business situation develops (like buying a competitor, or a new product line) halfway into the implementation.

System Expansion - Your Request for Proposal, and the vendor RFP response of the vendor you selected as your partner, become very useful in determining the right path to take when system expansion becomes necessary, on either an unplanned or planned basis.

In short, an Request for Proposal (RFP) is not just a one-time use tool for preparing just one type of RFP, but a requirements planning and project management tool useful over and over again for many different applications!

(NOTE: More detailed information about the above requirements gathering topics is available in the Optimized RFP Guide included free with every Infotivity Ready-to-Use RFP. To view the guide's Table of Contents, or order this guide separately, please see the Optimized RFP Guide TOC.)

Stop back often - new sections are added frequently!

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More information about the best methodologies for software evaluation & selection
may be found at the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute and CMMI Institute

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