Darian Anderson is the Vice President of Global Oracle Business Development at Velocity. Darian has over twenty years of experience in the JD Edwards space and is well known and respected by JD Edwards/Oracle executives, their partners and customers.
Most businesses use the same, flawed, enterprise software selection process. A prospective client sends a “Request for Proposal” (RFP) to a provider of software or services with instructions to complete and return a lengthy document in a specific period of time. The challenge with RFPs is that they don’t answer the question of a services fit with the required business processes. Most RFPs were designed by the purchasing department to determine a single factor—price. When solutions or services are similar, as with enterprise application software, the number of business processes that must be considered by the purchaser renders the RFP process inefficient and doesn’t guarantee the best solution for your organization.
Most RFPs are a long list of desired features but creating a list and responding to questions does not solve the problem of aligning technology with your business drivers. Often the prospect has not accurately documented the business problems their organizations are trying to solve. When we use the RFP method to select enterprise systems, the questions and the desired features look the same. Consequently, the responses will look the same. The document becomes a checklist of the services or features available from the provider. Missing is the peer-to-peer interaction you need to make the solution clear and less complex.
The impending generational shift in CIOs will accelerate change in how IT processes, like software selection, are managed. Those who make up the CIOs and senior IT leadership of today will increasingly feel the influence of Millennials, who bring a very different sensibility—and higher expectations—about technology and the digital world. Having grown up with a cell phone in their hand and computer in their bedrooms, Millennials see technology as a utility, they value agility, expect interoperability, see compute power and storage as elastic, and prefer to lease rather than own software. Resilience and security are simply expected. For these buyers, RFPs are not essential to making an informed decision.
These same CIOs will get their information on buying enterprise applications and services from their peers. This is a major shift in buyer behavior. Buyers buy from buyers. Demonstrating a positive services experience from a peer can be a defining moment in the selection process for a new buyer. Sources for making an informed decision for the Millennial buyer includes web search, peer influence, industry analysts, and Social media networks.
Three questions you should address are:
1) What is the architecture and design of the software and associated services? The software must have the features and functionality you require to run your business.
2) Is the solution proven? Check on customer testimonials from each company.
3) Will the software scale with your company as it grows? The software must be scalable and flexible to adapt to your changing business needs.
Instead of issuing an RFP, use your business network to determine service differentiation. Review your business drivers and your measurable outcomes. From your contacts, ask them what works for their businesses. Socialize the ultimate solution for your company and industry. The role of an IT decision maker is to conceive of what the business does not know it needs. Great executives lead their businesses—they don’t follow them.