Cole Cioran, Senior Research Director for Application Development and Portfolio Management at Info-Tech, described the keys to enhancing software selection and implementation.
At the outset of his thought leadership presentation at the 2017 Information Technology and Security Forum, held in Boston on December 7, Cioran announced he’d be talking about the six secrets to driving better software selection and implementation based on his company’s research of 5,000 software buyers across all types of software.
“Our research shows that two-thirds of enterprise software is rated ‘not effective’ or ‘not useful’ by users. What happens when your pipeline for transformation is clogged by tools that nobody uses? We need to start to think differently about how we implement and renew software in our organizations,” advised Cioran.
“Our research shows that two-thirds of enterprise software is rated ‘not effective’ or ‘not useful’ by users. What happens when your pipeline for transformation is clogged by tools that nobody uses?”
The six keys to thinking differently about software are:
1. Understand research drivers
2. Research satisfaction with vendors
3. Upgrade the software selection process
4. Negotiate better contracts
5. Rethink switching vendors
6. Manage user satisfaction
“On average, people renew their software even if they’re not using it. We can’t afford to do this anymore,” he stated. “We can’t transform our organization if we don’t get rid of the dead weight and choose better software—software that drives value for your organization. Often, software is implemented as a solution in search of a problem or to appease a particular influential person in the organization. There’s no good reason to renew software beyond, ‘Are people using it?’”
“On average, people renew their software even if they’re not using it. We can’t afford to do this anymore. We can’t transform our organization if we don’t get rid of the dead weight.”
Cioran continued, “Selection is where it starts, and effective selection drives overall software satisfaction. Find a tool that fits a purpose. Make sure you’re choosing the right vendors as partners.”
The selection processes that Info-Tech’s research found companies most often use are:
• ROI/cost-benefit analysis
• Third-party data reports
• Enterprise architecture oversight and approval
• RFP process
• Formal decision criteria
• Security oversight and approval
• Procurement, legal oversight, and approval
“Our data show that companies employing an ROI/cost-benefit analysis as part of their software-selection process not only felt they had a more effective selection process but also had a much higher level of satisfaction after deployment. If you do nothing else, do that ROI/cost-benefit analysis before you sign that check,” he advised.
“Another important step is negotiating better contracts. Forty-four percent of the 5,000 software buyers we surveyed got no discount on the software they purchased. One way to negotiate effectively is to select the right software and the right software license package for your organization, and ramp up only as people adopt. The best way for you to save money is through this kind of optimization—spending the right amount of money for something you’re actually using.”
Cioran then addressed the advantages—or not—of switching software vendors. “Overall, our research shows that less than half of respondents were more satisfied after switching vendors. If you’re switching for political reasons or cost, chances are you’ll end up in the same boat as before. The process of switching vendors is incredibly complex. Most of the time, the advantages you’re hoping to get from switching will be overshadowed by the headaches and costs, many of which are hidden. If you’re thinking of switching, you should consider if the needs outweigh the risks,” he advised.
“Overall, our research shows that less than half of respondents were more satisfied after switching vendors. If you’re switching for political reasons or cost, chances are you’ll end up in the same boat as before… Most of the time, the advantages you’re hoping to get from switching will be overshadowed by the headaches and costs, many of which are hidden.”
Cioran closed his presentation with these points:
• RFPs aren’t enough. “Look for other, better methods for software selection.”
• Money is on the table. “Software is big bucks and probably a substantial part of your annual budgets. Make sure you’re keeping your fair share,” he said.
• Ask your users what they care about. “Having a high satisfaction level is the ultimate goal, and the clearer you are on requirements going into the contract definition and negotiations, the better.”
An audience member asked what can be done if your company has just purchased a particular software and you know it’s not right.
“It’s necessary to understand why that software was chosen. If you can’t make that connection between a problem or opportunity and the solution that software provides, that’s a hot one to put on your ‘retire’ list for your application portfolio roadmap. Often, the first software in will dominate unless you drive change deliberately,” responded Cioran.
Cole Cioran leads the Application Development and Portfolio Management practice at Info-Tech Research Group. He develops software; designed data, infrastructure, and software solutions; defined systems and enterprise architectures; delivered enterprise-wide programs; and managed software development, infrastructure, and business-systems analysis practices.
Cole has worked in the mobile, ERP, and financial services sectors. Prior to joining Info-Tech, Cole was a Client Services Director at Blueprint Software Systems, where he delivered enterprise software, practice development, and change management programs to over 50,000 people at over a dozen Fortune 50 companies. Prior to that, Cole managed the Software Development, Infrastructure, and Systems Analysis practices at Mackenzie Investments, where he increased productivity by 30%, on-time delivery by 100%, and employee engagement by 25%.
These experiences have also made Cole realize that application development is about much more than software and hardware. Technology doesn’t solve problems unless people, processes, tools, and organizations change as well. Beyond technical certifications such as Disciplined Agilist, TOGAF, and Business Resilience for IT, he’s a certified change-management professional. Cole also completed his Master of Arts in Leadership in 2015 with a study of complexity, motivation, and team building.