Selecting new enterprise software can be a time-consuming process. So, apart from using Axia’s RFP Checklists, software shortlisting and selection services to save you time – what other tips are there, that you can use to save time in your software selection?
We list 30 practical tips you can use right away – to save time – when selecting your new software.
Learn all you can - before you start
1. If this is your first time selecting new software, or you’ve only done it infrequently, you are likely to be slower and require more time than someone who does it regularly. The way round this is to research and learn about each step of the software system process. Checkout our selection process resources – they’ll help you to be more familiar with it, know what to expect and complete the selection steps more quickly.
2. Learn about the technology used in the latest software systems.
3. Learn the terminology and jargon. Specifically, learn the jargon used by individual vendors / developers for their own software systems.
4. Use Axia’s FREE research and resources for software selection guidance, tips and downloadable tools. Save time reinventing the wheel.
Prepare a clear project plan
5. Prepare a project plan for the software selection process, so you know your time scales, who is doing what, where, when, milestones and deliverables.
6. As work can fill the time available, set a realistic time scale for the software selection process.
7. Question tasks as to their purpose / whether they really are necessary.
8. Delegate where possible, to spread the workload.
Get the right people involved
9. Involve people who have had previous experience of software selection, to reduce the learning curve.
10. Use your best people in your software selection process. They will almost certainly be busy, so you will have to free up some or all of their time to work on the project. Consider reallocating their day-to-day work or hiring temporary staff to help.
11. Selection team members need to be familiar with the overall business structure, operational processes, systems, interfaces.
12. Use the knowledge and expertise you already have internally within your organisation. If you have a colleague or employee who has previously worked with a system that you are interested in - involve them - even if only to find out their views of the system /software.
13. Bring in people with the right specialist skills at the right time, rather than trying to struggle through.
14. Or, bring in external people if you lack the necessary skills or time, for certain aspects of the software selection.
15. Stay focused on the tasks you need to do. Easier said than done. But staying focused will enable you to complete all the essential tasks, without being side tracked or wasting time doing unnecessary tasks.
16. Stay in charge of your software selection process – don’t allow vendors to dictate your workload or time table.
17. Use the phone rather than email or texting. You can sort out problems / queries much faster. It’s more interactive and you build a better relationship!
18. Reduce time spent travelling, by arranging for software vendors to visit you at your offices, rather than you (and your team) travelling to the vendors.
19. Try to avoid procrastination and / or perfectionism – they are both big time-wasters.
20. Use tools wherever possible. Research the internet for downloadable tools that you can use in the process.
Prepare good RFI’s / RFP’s
21. Firstly use Axia’s RFI/RFP Checklists.
22. But if you have to create an RFI / RFP yourself – use Excel. It is much faster to use than Word.
23. Use one column for vendor responses – not multiple columns. This will help:
- vendors as it is less confusing for them to respond – they just fill in one column
- your review of vendor responses – it is easier to analyse one column rather than multiple columns
- setting up weighted scores calculations
- facilitate a side-by-side comparison of vendor responses
24. Learn how to use Excel well – particularly any of the later versions (eg Excel 2010), which are significantly different from earlier versions. Time spent on this, will be easily recouped during the selection process.
25. Likewise, if you have a slow typing speed, learn to improve your speed or to touch type. This can be a major time saver.
26. Alternatively, record any meetings you have and have minutes typed up professionally.
Have a really short - shortlist
27. Ensure your shortlist of potential software vendors is a really short list. Even if you can only reduce your short list from say 4 to 3 potential vendors, this still represents a 25% saving in demonstration and evaluation time.
28. Use a demo script for software vendor demonstrations. It will save rambling presentations / demonstrations and ensure you are focused on the key points you are interested in, rather than what the sales/presenter would like to show you.
If necessary - get advice
29. If you need advice – take it from those that have done it before (or got the outcome you desire) and so cut out superfluous noise and time wasted.
30. If you are unsure – ask around or contact us.
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 / Critical success factors / 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