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Best Practice for Software Selection: Proof of Concept Instead of Tendering

Six Reasons Why You Should Put Your PPM Software to a Real Field Test before Implementing It

04/28/2020

Selection & Implementation, Auswahl & Einführung

Finding the Right Software and the Right Partner Is No Easy Task

Are you in the process of selecting the right PPM software? Then you probably already know: You need to make a choice and implement the solution as quickly and as inexpensively as possible. But at the end of the day, results matter, and the software should be a perfect fit for your company.

Not much time?

Read the summarized version of this article.

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So far so good. You have probably catalogued the requirements already, or you are in the process of consulting with various stakeholders with a view to do so. You may even have researched certain PPM tools or providers already and shortlisted a few.

Now things get a little more specific. You have probably asked yourself at least one of the following questions already:

  • How long will it take before we can actually make effective use of the software?
  • What costs should we expect?
  • How do we ensure that our individual requirements are eventually reflected in the software?
  • How do we identify a software and service provider that is a good fit for our company?

If these questions sound familiar to you, read on. Our answers may surprise you.

Tenders: The Traditional Method for Selecting Complex Software – But Is There a Better Way?

First of all, here’s what you already know: When it comes to extensive software implementation projects, many companies rely on an upfront tender process to determine a) which tool is the right one and b) which service provider they would like to work with in the future.

Maybe you have toyed with this idea, and it may even be next on your to do list. If so, we would like to challenge you to reconsider. Our experience has shown that there is a better solution.

Why do we say that? For many years now, we have seen that tenders do not end up delivering on customers’ expectations for software that meets their needs best and a reliable and competent partner that they can collaborate with.

Why You Can’t Get What You Need with a Tender

Tenders Take a Long Time and Cost a Lot of Money

Your final decision about the tool and service provider will be based on a theoretical assessment process that can take several months or even years. What ends up happening is that you invest in licenses before you and your users have had any extensive practical experience with the software.

You Can Never Be Sure That the Software Will Actually Be a Good Fit for Your Company

As a customer, you only have enough time to test the system briefly and rather superficially before deciding to buy. The service provider usually demonstrates the software’s features in web sessions or live demos. You only get theoretical answers to your questions about usability and accuracy of fit to your unique requirements.

A tender seems to be based on objective evaluation criteria, which would imply a high quality decision. But there may be very small differences between the individual candidates. A minute change to your rating system could produce a different result. You may even neglect your gut feeling.

The Service Provider Hasn't Yet Had to Prove Themselves in Practice

Choosing your software in this way means you are committing yourself to a particular partner early on. You have yet to see them live and “in action.” You will also only get to know the vendor’s sales force. You won’t know much about the team that you will cooperate with to implement the joint project.

The probability of making a wrong decision and thus a bad investment is therefore relatively high. Fortunately, there is another option. You don’t have to buy a pig in a poke.

The Alternative: A Practical Test With a Proof of Concept (PoC) Instead of a Theory-Based Tender

Our experience and, above all, the experience of our customers have shown us that a proof of concept is the better alternative to a tender. With a PoC, you get to test your desired software early on and in practice. You also get to know the service provider. This creates a more stable foundation for making your final decision.

This Is How a Modern Software Selection Procedure with a Proof of Concept Works

When selecting a complex PPM software package, a PoC ideally looks like this: First, the service provider of your desired system conducts a scoping workshop with you to determine your requirements. He gets to know your requirements.

Then the service provider sets up a functional prototype of the software. At this point, they are now able to respond to your individual requirements. You get to test their solution approaches. Depending on the requirements, the prototype testing can take from a few weeks to several months, and it is performed with your own data and use cases.

The service provider therefore has to prove that the software can meet your individual requirements. At the same time, they must show that as a partner they can understand and implement them. Simply put: It is not enough to present a pretty demo set and fill out a catalog of requirements in Excel.

Only after the PoC Will You Make the Final Decision

Option 1: You choose the software.

  • If, at the end of the test phase, you decide to actually use the tool, any deliverables from the PoC can be used as a point of departure for the actual implementation. So you can build on what has been developed during the PoC phase instead of having to start from scratch later when you complete the implementation.

Option 2: You do not choose the software.

  • If you find that the tool is not the right one for you, you can still decide against it after the PoC. You will have the advantage of not having spent any money on licenses. You will not have wasted months or years of your time before coming to this realization. After this experience, you will also know more precisely what you need (and what you don't need).

1. Save Time and Money

As is the case with a tender, using a PoC doesn’t exempt you from having to research possible tools and service providers. But you can choose whether you want to perform just one PoC with one service provider (and one software package) or perform several PoCs simultaneously.

For complex project and portfolio management software like Clarity PPM, we recommend that you set aside between one to six months depending on the complexity and scope of your requirements. You will quickly get a functional prototype that your users can work with on a trial basis. After this intensive phase, you will have a very clear picture of whether or not the software actually meets the needs of your company and your users.

You can also make an informed decision in a timely manner. Even if you do end up finding that the software or the implementation partner is not a good fit, you will come to this conclusion early on and not only once the implementation has been completed and all investments have already been made.

2. Test for Your Individual Requirements Yourself

Your use cases and processes are mapped on the basis of your own prototype so that you and your users can work with them directly.

The requirements are implemented, the service provider delivers, and you can start testing immediately, all in rapid iterations. You can have peace of mind knowing that the tool actually suits your company’s individual requirements and your new partner can optimally support you since these are satisfied in the software.

3. Take Advantage of Our Best Practice Experience for Your Processes

There is no need to reinvent the wheel: Comprehensive business software like Clarity PPM usually already includes many processes and use cases. Every company is unique and has their own individual requirements – but you’re in luck. Someone else has already done much of the work for you.

Get inspiration for your own processes by testing the standard functionalities. If you find that the existing features are not sufficient, you can also adapt the tool to your processes and come up with your own configurations.

You also get to benefit from the service provider’s experience. Especially when you are still defining your processes, your partner can give you valuable best practice tips and show you “how others do it.”

4. Postpone Purchasing Licenses and Minimize Your Risk

Speed is of the essence in today’s world when it comes to software selection and implementation. The last thing companies want is to decide to implement a piece of software for a large number of users where they are committed for months or years only to find out afterwards that they made the wrong choice.

With a PoC, you can avoid buying the proverbial pig in a poke. Before you finally decide on the software and purchase licenses, test it extensively using your prototype.

It’s not just the software that has to prove itself, but also the service provider as well. You can find out whether they live up to their promises on the basis of a PoC. You will clearly see early on whether collaborating together is a feasible option for you at all moving forward.

So you don’t have to commit to the software or the service provider and make large investments without a proper basis. This significantly reduces the risk of a bad investment.

5. Get a Sound Basis for Decision-Making

The PoC gives you the chance to get decision-makers on board early on in the selection process. You can incorporate important topics for managing directors, board members, and other stakeholders into the system already during the test phase.

Think about how management would react if you were already able to create and present your first reports, for example. Or if you can demonstrate the system to them live in real time, including the way it would actually appear if you were to use it?

You also involve your users closely and initiate the change process successfully right from the start. By incorporating the actual requirements of future users, you promote buy-in and added value.

This gives not only you, but also everyone else involved, the right feeling. But above all, it gives you a solid foundation for your decision, since you would have already seen that it works.

6. Get a Basis for Later Implementation

The additional benefit is this: If you do decide to use the software, then the time you have invested would have paid off not only because you were able to make an informed decision. You would already have finished part of the implementation process without even knowing it. That’s because everything that has been developed and customized during the PoC can later be used as a basis for further software implementation.

What's Next? Your Next Steps to Selecting the Right PPM Software

  • Define the most important requirements and use cases that you would like to test with a prototype. Find the relevant users and stakeholders to help you.
  • Use the benefits and arguments mentioned above to persuade the decision-makers to use a proof of concept to help them select a software package.
  • Save yourself the time that is required in order to conduct an extensive tender. Research service providers and tools and make your selection.
  • Talk to your preferred service provider(s) and ask them if they would be willing to do a PoC with you.
  • Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the proof of concept process or want to learn more about our best practices.

We Can't Wait to Hear Your Questions

Talk to us if you want to find out more about what a proof of concept with Clarity PPM and itdesign may look like in practice. We would be happy to share our experiences and best practices with you.

Contact us now

FAQ – Questions You May Still Have

What if we are already in the middle of the tendering process?

Our recommendation: At least do a short proof of concept with your favorite choices. Pause the tendering process for a few weeks. Verify how your desired software and the service provider measure up using a practical test.

Can we do a PoC with multiple service providers?

You can, of course, do a proof of concept with a number of service providers and various software as well. You can decide on a case-by-case basis how sensible this may be and which procedure you should pay attention to. Relevant criteria may then, for example, be how much time and budget your company has available for various PoCs.

Are there any disadvantages to doing a PoC?

Proponents of tenders often question the objectivity of the final decision that is made in light of a PoC. Since you work closely with the service provider’s implementation team right from the start, you are able to achieve synergies. You get to know and appreciate each other. Our experience shows that precisely this aspect is one of the unbeatable ways in which a PoC adds value. As with a tender, you still evaluate the software and the service provider on the basis of neutral criteria. But you will also find out whether you can work together on an interpersonal level. And this is an often forgotten, but essential success factor in software implementation.

Why don't all service providers recommend a PoC if it is in fact the best option for the customer?

With a PoC, the service provider must be very confident about their product as well as their performance as a partner. Just having a competent sales team is not enough. The specialist and technical contact persons must also deliver. Experience will be one of the most important factors here: Your service provider really needs to know what they’re doing. A proof of concept will also reveal any possible weaknesses in the software. They cannot be concealed or glossed over.

How do I convince my management to do a PoC?

Use the six mentioned benefits as arguments to convince your management, decision-makers, and other stakeholders that a proof of concept is a good idea. We are also available to provide you with any additional support or to answer any specific concerns you may have.

Short & Concise: The Article in a Few Words

  • The selection and implementation of a comprehensive software for project and portfolio management (PPM) is a complex process. On the one hand, it should be as fast and cost-effective as possible, but on the other hand, it should also perfectly meet the requirements of your company.
  • Many companies decide to put out a tender to select the right software and the right partner. However, this is usually time and cost intensive. Decisions are made on the basis of complex evaluation criteria and point systems. The software itself is only superficially tested in the standard, if at all. Therefore, you run the risk of making a large investment without being sure that the software and the provider really fit your company.
  • A Proof of Concept (PoC) as a prototype of the software is the alternative to a tender. This allows you to test the software against your individual requirements before you invest in licenses and commit to a partner. This saves you time and money, minimizes your risk and provides a sound basis for your decision. You can then use the prototype as a starting point for further implementation.

Get Your PPM Software in Four Steps

As a first step, you will get the chance to familiarize yourself with the software during a joint, no-obligation web session. Second, we will select an appropriate PPM software package to satisfy your requirements. Thirdly, we will test your requirements and provide you with a sound basis for decision-making. During the actual installation process, we will use our proven methodology to satisfy your requirements.

Find out more about our selection and implementation process
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Felix Zwießele

Head of Sales PPM

+49 7071 3667 60
ppm@itdesign.de

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