Four Steps To The Right Tech Purchase

“An expert is someone who has succeeded in making decisions and judgments simpler through knowing what to pay attention to and what to ignore.” Edward de Bono, psychologist

The cost of a bad technology decision cannot be measured in currency. Soured relationships, lost opportunities, irritable customers – these have intangible and far-reaching consequences. Avoid the long term pain by spending time up front to make the right decision.

  1. “Request For Proposals” do have value. Government and public institutions are often required to have rigid RFP processes for product selection. Lengthy bureaucratic processes are not advisable, however a thoughtful process of documenting what the organization needs and wants is wise. (Bonus: Gets everyone aligned on scope sooner rather than later.)
  2. Go Beyond the Functional. Consider not just the solution itself, but what you need to make the solution work. Digital security, additional IT skillsets, stronger network, additional integrations – what are all the ingredients for success? This will also help with identifying the total cost of the solution. (Bonus: Will also help with the project plan and approach, agile, waterfall or otherwise.)
  3. Decision-making rubric. What are the factors that are most important to you – the functions, costs, impacts, outcomes? Listing and weighting the factors, getting buy-in, and then rank vendor solutions accordingly. (Bonus: separates the needs from the wants; gets focus on the highest priorities.)
  4. A Contract is a Relationship – Not a Transaction. Great vendors realize their success is tied to your success. The most important cornerstone is a contract that clearly covers the nuts and bolts of how the relationship will work, not an exercise to be rushed through. And the signatures on the dotted lines are not the end; they are just the beginning. Pay attention to the whole relationship. (Bonus: Decreases risk of litigation.)

These four items may mean it takes longer to determine the right solution. You need to watch out for going overboard and having decision-making processes that delay and obfuscate. Also the capital outlay for the solution isn’t always indicative of the time needing to be spent on the decision. Alignment to strategy, time-to-market and organizational impact are just some of the other factors that need to be considered. Sometimes a $10K capital outlay has more relevance and impact than a $1M outlay.

Don’t just make decisions – make decisions right.

“Making good decisions is a crucial skill at every level.” Peter Drucker

Worth considering:

Article in MITSloan Management Review on what to do & not do to implement rapid change – for example, don’t digitize without re-thinking the business model.

Amazing leaders spend material time thinking, reading and experimenting –  not on e-mail.

Speed is an imperative, but watch out for “speed bumps.” Wise words from Mark Thiele of Apcera.

Remember when we dreamed of air travel being exponentially faster? Cool photos documenting the life and times of the last Concorde aircraft to be built.

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