Articles > Three Common Issues Impacting Technology Selection
If you have ever been involved in purchasing technology for your business, there is a good chance you have heard (or said) one or more of the following statements after sitting through a product demo:
- That seems easy to use
- I’m sure we can customize it if we need to
- They said it can integrate with pretty much anything
- It looks like it has the reporting we need
- This will free up a lot of time
When you are faced with a business problem that needs to be solved, it’s natural to want to find the answer quickly. Buyers WANT there to be the perfect solution and will assume features exist and/or look past glaring deficiencies. Of course, the devil is in the details and those details are sometimes missed during high-level demos.
With the challenges of technology product selection in mind, I have three observations to consider:
- All product demos are not equal
- Beware of the educated but inexperienced buyer
- Buy technology based on a long-term strategy
These observations will save your business money and improve the results you get from your technology investments.
Understanding Product Demos
It’s important to recognize that there are TWO types of demos – product information and product selection demos. Product information demos are typically the response to a Request for Information (RFI) and are intended to provide a general overview of scope and capability. These demos are useful to help buyers structure and prioritize their requirements based on what is available on the market. If it’s clear that high priority requirements are not available yet on the market, the decision to build/customize becomes relevant.
Product selection demos are the response to a Request for Proposal (RFP) where there is a clearly defined list of requirements that need to be met. This detailed list should be prioritized and products should be evaluated accordingly. Gaps should be documented and evaluated during the selection process. If there are other features or circumstances that mitigate an identified gap, these should also be documented.
If you do not evaluate products against a detailed requirements list, you risk selecting the wrong product due to unclear expectations and inaccurate assumptions.
Educated But Inexperienced Buyers
Competent business professionals will be thorough in their research on product categories and best practices. They may demo a variety of products to get a better sense of what is available. In a fairly short period of time, most professionals can become educated on a technology category.
But nothing replaces experience.
An employee may understand the business requirements better than anyone else but that does not make them an experienced buyer. If you assign a buying decision to an employee who has not bought that type of technology before or at least been involved in an implementation of similar technology, you may be setting the project up to fail before it ever gets started.
Technology takes time. Time to implement. Time to learn. Time to see the results you wanted. And even more time to recover from when the project fails.
My point? Take the time to flush out a long-term technology strategy that supports your business objectives and that you can afford. Your business will feel the long-term effects of technology purchases (both good and bad) and one thing you cannot afford is a series of “buy and try” experiments. Put the same effort into your technology strategy that you put into your sales and marketing strategy.
The bottom line is that too many businesses suffer from failed technology projects and incur unnecessary system switching costs because of some basic missteps. You can avoid these issues by having experienced technology leadership on your management team. Learn more about hiring a part-time Chief Technology Officer to protect your technology investments.