1. An actively engaged project sponsor
A board level director / executive who fully supports, is actively involved with and champions the project. Ideally this would be the CEO. IT Director support is required, but this is not enough. It should at least be the head of the relevant department eg Finance Director / CFO for a new accounting system, HR Director for a new HR system. Selecting a new system without a Project Sponsor will not only fail, but most likely not even start.
2. Clear objectives for the system selection
These include defining a vision for the new system, the objectives to be achieved, the scope of the project and hence, the parameters, tasks, project plan for the selection process.
3. A solid business case for the project
These days, almost all system projects require a good business case prior to commencement or system selection. Whilst at a high or summarised level, the essential components include:
- an outline of the project, what is being proposed and why
- a positive ROI (Return on Investment) and a quick investment payback
- a summary of costs (direct and indirect), benefits (tangible and intangible) and an outline budget for the overall project
- an overview of how the new system will be implemented, key dates, departments, people involved, resourcing, outline implementation project plan, project risks and their mitigation
- a budget available for the system selection eg for external purchases, consultancy and internal resources
4. Users driving the project
Driving the project forward is more than just user involvement – the users need to actively lead and be totally involved with the system selection. They should be willing to accept the need for change, not just to the system, but also to operational procedures / processes. And whilst IT is also heavily involved, it should be in more of a supporting role, rather than the driving role. After all, the system is for the users - who are responsible for the business need / business case.
5. Committed resources and experienced project management
An experienced project manager should manage the system selection process. All resources should have the skills, commitment and time available to carry out the selection tasks. There should be no conflict with their existing workloads, critical business dates / deadlines, etc. If there are insufficient internal resources with the right skills and availability, bring in external resources. They could either work on the selection process, or free up staff, who in turn, may work on the system selection.
6. Focus on the business requirements
The establishment of business requirements under pins the project. It is the ‘foundation block’ for selecting the right system, implementing and achieving the desired business benefits.
7. A sensible time scale for the system selection process
Too rushed and corners will be cut, not enough thought given to business requirements and potentially good solutions missed. But too long and the selection process becomes too drawn out, confusing and difficult to make head way. A balance has to be struck - which varies from one organisation to another – so that there is sufficient time for all the software selection activities to be completed.
For more system selection information visit: Selection steps / Stakeholder analysis form / Stakeholder management tips / Sample project plan / RACI Matrix / Project initiation checklist / How not to select software / Software selection time saving tips / Project issue log / Requirements gathering techniques / Reasons to write a good requirements specification / System design review / Simple risk assessment form / Risk assessment worksheet / Software prototyping / Project reporting form / Project Status Report Template / Software selection warning signs