Knowledge Based Selections
Written By: John Diezemann
Published On: March 14 2001
Knowledge Based Selections
Diezemann, B. Spencer & J. Dowling
Performing a selection for a technology product requires a company to
marry a myriad of internal business requirements, both present and future,
with a myriad of vendor attributes that relate to both products performance
as well as the ability to effectively provide long-term value to clients.
In order to truly reach a "best" and "justifiable" decision that will
stand up to the scrutiny of critics both inside and outside the organization,
true business requirements, linked to long-term strategy must be distilled
and hundreds, if not thousands, of vendor attributes must be evaluated.
with enough hands, enough expertise and enough time, an organization could
plow its way through the voluminous amount of information to reach a proper
decision, a Selection Methodology that utilizes a Knowledge Base and decision
support tool and expedites business requirements collection and the vetting
of vendor claims, will enable a company to rapidly conduct its due diligence
and select a technology vendor that best fits its requirements.
Based Selection has several unique characteristics:
- It leverages
a pre-built knowledge base that covers:
- It follows
an explicit methodology that creates maximum leverage from people, process
& technological tools.
- It has
a consistent approach to evaluating Technology Providers see article
You Know How to Evaluate Your Strategic Technology Provider?"
- It enables
the auditing of decisions through the use of scientific methods as are
embedded in TEC's ERGO 2001 selection tool.
of Knowledge Based Selections
It is important to determine whether or not your project and business
goals, as they pertain to technology selection, are aligned with the goals
of the Knowledge Based Selection Method. These goals are summarized below:
Objectivity is a high priority for Knowledge Based Selections. It is
vital that internal needs assessment and technology evaluation be conducted
without allowing individual group biases to enter. Although the company
benefits from a good rapport among departments, even the suggestion
of bias would greatly impair the validity of the results.
Companies who elect to conduct a technology selection project using
only internal resources face numerous challenges. In large organizations,
work groups are often distributed over large distances in terms of both
physical distance and corporate role. This separation, perhaps efficient
in some ways, creates a barrier to selection projects that require participation
by these disparate groups. Also, internal project team members can be
perceived as biased no matter how honorable their intentions. You need
a means of maintaining objectivity in selections, thereby mitigating
both bias and the influence of internal political agendas.
as highly detailed a comparison as possible
Virtually all technology selection teams appreciate the importance of
product functionality and product technology requirements in making
the right decision. Too often, however, these are the only criteria
that play a role in the decision-making process. Other factors can determine
the eventual success or failure of a new system, including vendor corporate
strategy, service and support capabilities, financial viability, cost
and qualitative measures with regards to process fit, ease of use/navigation,
market feedback, vendor diligence and product flexibility.
Your process must ensure validation of the product technology and functionality
through detailed technical reviews of application architecture and design
and by employing scripted vendor demonstrations. It should develop repositories
of hierarchically arranged criteria that ensure the selection incorporates
this breadth of criteria.
Another frequently forgotten, but important aspect in technology selections
is detail. Selections that fail to consider requirements at a sufficient
level of detail inevitably produce costly surprises during implementation.
Your selection process must combine sufficient degrees of breadth and
depth in order for project teams to make valid comparisons among vendor
The selection process should also have a methodology that facilitates
a well-documented audit trail of the processes and each vendor's capability
to support those processes. It also should provide a method to deliver
a statistical best match between the your needs and each vendor's capabilities.
the implementation for success
The selection process that gives the implementation the best possible
chance to succeed will:
a comprehensive and detailed exploration of the organization's needs,
an automated decision support framework,
deep expertise to manage the overall selection process, and
a sound recommendation that supports the business strategy.
can afford to embark on a system implementation that is predestined
to fail. To that end, your process should include a readiness assessment
through interviews with executive and senior managers. From an analysis
of needs, concerns, attitudes, experience, knowledge and desired business
architecture, you can constructs a Risk Profile for each selection
to help guide the GO/NOGO decision and risk mitigation choices.
While there may be more than one product that satisfactorily addresses
your requirements, differences in total solution cost can be significant.
These costs are not restricted to license fees, implementation services,
and user training fees. Years after the go-live date of the new system,
the ongoing maintenance, training, and upgrade costs can reach totals
that greatly overshadow the initial expenditure. Clearly, a thorough
selection demands that initial and ongoing costs assume a prominent
role in determining the one product that offers the greatest cost effectiveness.
You should include both initial and ongoing costs in the decision model.
Cost effectiveness can be represented as criteria within the decision
model hierarchy and compared to other feature/function criteria, strategy,
viability, or service and support. Cost can also be represented as values,
allowing other criteria, such as functionality and technology to be
compared against it.
A strong mandate to adopt a new IT strategy and/or technical approach
is critical if the company is to keep pace with current and future business
developments. The selection process builds upon acquired knowledge to
yield technology recommendations that solve day-to-day business objectives,
while supporting its long-term goals
Your methodology should have potential suppliers prove that their solutions
can work in the manner that you envision your company operating after
the system is implemented. At the end of the process you should have
detailed business scenarios based on your specific operations and be
able to provide suppliers with a crystal clear picture of what is desired
and what they are expected to demonstrate to the selection team.
Companies that are ready to make a technology selection can benefit greatly
from the Knowledge Based approach. The utilization of structured models
tailored to a specific technology selection decisions and populated with
vendor data that has been vetted by an independent research analyst, position
these companies to conduct a detailed comparison of their business needs
to the capabilities and attributes of competing vendors. The Knowledge
Based approach quickly sorts through the "noise" and delivers a clear
and documented understanding as to why a particular choice is "best" for
web-based decision support models are available using WebTESS.
may choose to download a stand-alone version of ERGO 2001 with limited
selection methodology that addresses some of the points covered
in this note is available at: http://www.capterra.com