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Software Selection Warning Signs

that indicate your software selection may have problems

You commence with the best-laid plans and intentions. All the ingredients for a successful software selection have been covered. However, somewhere in the process things begin to look a little shaky. What should you look out for? And then, how should you tackle? We list below 30 early warning signs to look out for that indicate your software selection may have problems.

Project related

1. Slipped / missed deadlines per the project plan.

2. Repeatedly doing project tasks in the wrong order. Possibly OK for ‘non-critical path’ tasks, but not so for those tasks firmly on the critical path.

3. Co-ordination of all the different people involved with the software selection, proving to be harder and taking longer than envisaged.

4. The project team hesitating or confused as to what to do next in the project.

5. Unable to produce a (decent) requirements specification.

6. Conflict such as internal politics, vested interests, or departments at ‘logger heads’ with each other.

7. Ignoring key project tasks.

Project team related

8. Project team member inaction due to other workloads (many team members also have their regular day job to do as well as any project work).

9. Team members continually making excuses for not doing their allotted tasks.

10. Loss of key project personnel either temporarily eg unplanned leave, unforeseen holidays, or permanent eg seconded elsewhere in the company, or leaving the company.

11. Over dominance or influence of one or more individuals, who do not always act in the best interests of the project.

12. Lack of goodwill between team members and their desire to work together.

13. Morale of the project team drops.

IT Related

14. IT taking the lead, when users should be driving the project.

15. IT continually suggesting requirements for the new software, when the users should be doing this.

User related

16. Lack of agreement for new software system requirements, with different user departments wanting different requirements or insisting on different priorities.

17. Conflicting interests eg one group of users realising that their current stand-alone system is better than the new fully integrated software, which they have to help choose.

18. A group of users suddenly realising during the selection process, how much they and their department will be affected by the new software.

19. Users losing interest, with their enthusiasm for the project suddenly draining away.

20. Constantly changing requirements – new requirements emerging after sign off.

21. System requirements sign off, delayed by users or departmental management.

Business related

22. New senior management or board directors wishing to take time to review whether the project is the right one for the company, their department, at this time.

23. Unforeseen business or company changes eg take over, merger, restructure or rationalisation.

24. Additional ‘top down’ project changes, or a change of emphasis regarding the project, forced by senior management / the Board.

25. Budgetary changes, forced by changing business finances.

26. Project sponsor departs.

Vendor related

27. The very pushy vendor, who bombards you with telephone calls, emails and requests for meetings, until you give in or get rid of them.

28. Being side-tracked by a vendor ‘spreading the dirt’ about other competing vendors, whether you asked for it or not.

29. Finding a critical concern about a potential vendor, that may affect your decision(s) ‘late in the day’.

30. Information requests being treated differently eg slower, poorer quality responses.

We are not saying that all the above signs will be seen, or indeed any will occur with your software selection. It may all go completely smoothly for you, or different ones may appear.

However, when it comes to tackling the issues and causes:

  • You need to be ready and willing to deal with them.
  • You need to have the personal resources, energy and time available, to investigate and resolve whatever issues arise. Or guide the project as best you can for issues that are outside your control.
  • You need to have the corporate backing and resources, including budget available to assist resolution.
  • In addition, it would be prudent to schedule in extra project management time to deal with unforeseen events when preparing your software selection project plan.


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 / 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 Status Report Template / Project reporting form

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