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Keep Your IT Projects Focused with TEC’s Evaluation Centers

Written By: Jamal Rahal
Published On: July 9 2009

Here at TEC, we spend a lot of time talking about how easily software selection projects can go wrong. One mistake we see over and over is that companies fail to properly define their functional and technical requirements—the things that their new software must do and support.

That’s a big problem—because accurate, well-defined requirements are a critical part of any selection project. Get them right and you’re on the road to success. Get them wrong, or take shortcuts, and you risk making a bad choice. Worse still, you may not even know how bad a choice it is until after the implementation—when it’s too late.

But putting your requirements first isn’t always easy. Software selection is a juggling act, and your requirements aren’t the only ball you need to keep in the air. You’ve also got to analyze reams of data from vendors (some of it fact, some of it marketing hype) to find out if their products actually meet your requirements. And you need to make sure that you’re analyzing those data the right way—using the right tools and a proven methodology.

That’s where TEC’s Evaluation Centers come in—helping you stay focused on your requirements without dropping anything else.


So What Is an Evaluation Center?


Our Evaluation Centers are dedicated, online environments for software selection. Each Center contains everything you need to compare a particular type of enterprise software solution, and include:

A structured method for defining and prioritizing your requirements: The Evaluation Center interface lets you work from a model of industry standard features and functions where you can identify the features and functions you need and set priorities to define their relative importance. Structuring your requirements this way makes it easy to see how well vendors support them. But more on that in a moment.

Detailed vendor information: We ask vendors in dozens of industries to respond to detailed requests for information (RFIs) so we know how well their solutions support thousands of industry-standard features and functions. Once it is vetted by our analysts, this information ends up in our knowledge bases (KBs), along with articles, white papers, and other relevant data.

Every Evaluation Center gives you access to one or more KBs, so you have up-to-date information about hundreds of vendor solutions at your disposal—information that would be, at best, difficult and time-consuming to gather on your own.

A built-in decision support engine: Powering TEC’s Evaluation Centers is ebestmatch™, our online decision support engine. ebestmatch compares your requirements to the capabilities of vendor solutions in order to first identify a short list of solutions and, later, to identify the “best-fit” solution.

ebestmatch has a number of unique characteristics that make it ideal for software selection. For example, ebestmatch can supplement traditional weighted-average-based analysis with the BestMatch Factor—a patented computation that analyzes not only how well a solution matches your requirements, but also how closely it hews to your priorities.

With ebestmatch, it is also possible to do a “value analysis” that tells you which solution offers the closest match to your requirements for the price, and shows you how other vendors would have to adjust their pricing to stay competitive.

How Does This Help Keep Your Selection Projects Focused?


I said at the beginning that properly defining your functional and technical requirements is a critical part of your software selection project. After all, the goal is to find the best software for your business, and your needs have to come first.

Using a TEC Evaluation Center removes much of the overhead of a traditional selection project, leaving you with more time to pay attention to what you need—and whether the vendors can deliver it.

For one thing, in an Evaluation Center, you model and prioritize your requirements using the exact structure found in TEC’s RFIs—the same RFIs that vendors respond to. So you can see exactly where a vendor does and doesn’t support your requirements, and make apples-to-apples comparisons of competing vendors. That makes the comparison process a whole lot faster.

For another thing, because the Evaluation Centers already contain vendor RFI responses, you don’t need to spend time collecting and validating RFIs to develop your initial short list of vendors. And while you will eventually need to send RFIs to the vendors who make the short list, you can load their responses into the Evaluation Center and do the same kind of quick, unbiased evaluation and comparison you did to arrive at a short list in the first place.

And for yet another thing, TEC’s Evaluation Centers have analysis tools built right in, so you don’t need to spend time building and troubleshooting complicated spreadsheets (if you’ve been through a selection project before, you’ll immediately recognize what a time-saver this is). ebestmatch handles the underlying computations and displays the results in the Evaluation Center interface, using clear, easy-to-understand graphs, charts, and reports. You can see how the vendors perform at any level—from broad functional areas to individual features and functions.

Oh, and just so you know: every Evaluation Center is set up to guide you through the selection process according to TEC’s proven selection methodology, so you can be sure you’re going about things the right way.

In the End, It’s All about You


Your requirements aren’t the only component of your selection project, but they’re arguably the most important one. Getting them wrong or defining them poorly can have a disastrous effect. Put another way: garbage in, garbage out.

The idea behind our Evaluation Centers is to make the long and difficult parts of the selection process shorter and easier, leaving you free to focus on what your business needs. And that can pay off big, come implementation time.

Note: If you’re interested in seeing exactly how TEC’s Evaluation Centers work, you can sign up for a free trial, which you can use to perform a basic comparison of a long list of vendors. Simply follow the link to the Evaluation Center selection wizard, and answer a few questions to determine which Evaluation Center is right for you.
 
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