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The Art of Software Selection: What Would Buddha Do?

Written By: Sherry Fox
Published On: October 3 2009

Truth is one; paths are many.” - H. H. Sri Swami Satchidananda

Buddhism and software selection. Say what? Yes, you read that correctly. As an “aspiring Buddhist,” I’ve come to learn that Buddhist philosophy can find its way into virtually every aspect of one’s life. While ancient Buddhism still remains a mystery to many, it could certainly help shed some light on a few modern-day dilemmas! Choosing enterprise software for your business is one that comes to my mind.

The “Eightfold Path” to Software Selection

Siddartha Gautama (better known today as “Buddha”) came up with the Eightfold Path, which was his idea of a way to end suffering. I’m sure a few of you deep in the midst of your software selection project certainly feel like you’re suffering—or at least struggling a little.

The Eightfold Path is a technique used in Buddhist practice to develop insight into the true nature of reality (called enlightenment). While Siddartha’s search for the Four Nobel Truths (one of which is the Eightfold Path) was a deeper, more spiritual journey, here I aim to use this technique as a practical way of choosing enterprise software—a very different kind of journey.
1. Right view. Before you start on your journey to choosing enterprise software for your company, you must have a clear understanding of what it is you’re looking for. By identifying your needs and creating a detailed graphical model of how your company conducts business (better known as business process modeling, or BPM), you will begin to see the bigger picture.
2. Right intention. What is the reason behind your decision to purchase a new enterprise solution? Is it because you want to get with the times and have the latest technology the market has to offer? Is it because you want to improve operational efficiency? Make sure your intention is for the “right reasons.” In the end, you’ll be glad you did—especially when you see that return on investment (ROI).
3. Right speech. When it comes to convincing the “powers that be” that integrating a new system is the right thing to do, you’d better have a proposal prepared. Put together a proper “business case” and present it to your company’s decision makers (i.e., board of directors, executives, shareholders, etc.).
4. Right action. There is more than one way to “skin a cat” (as the old saying goes). But with software selection, you can’t afford to waste time. By using the proper methodology for choosing your next enterprise software, you can be sure your right actions will speak volumes in the end (go-live).
5. Right livelihood. I’m not quite sure how this one fits in with software selection, but let’s see...hmmm...nope, doesn’t really fit here. Although, if I stretch it a little and break down the word “livelihood,” it means “business”—the way one makes money. In business, if you want to be successful, making the right choices can go a long way!
6. Right effort. Software selection is a very long process and takes a team of dedicated individuals to see a selection project come to fruition. With proper guidance and planning, and the right amount of effort, you can ensure your selection project will have a successful outcome.
7. Right mindfulness. Don’t be clouded by a vendor’s promises. It’s easy to get swept up in all the bells and whistles that these products offer. The important thing is that you keep in mind all the features and functions that you really need and be sure that you settle for nothing less.
8. Right concentration. Concentration can be defined as “the direction of all thought or effort toward one particular task, idea, or subject.” Placing your concentrated effort on finding the best-fit solution for your needs, as well as using the proper tools, will help ensure you make all the right choices along the way. While there are many paths to choosing the right enterprise software, there’s only one solution that’ll be the right fit for your business!



For Buddhist-type answers to many of life’s other important questions, I suggest reading What Would Buddha Do at Work? 101 Answers to Workplace Dilemmas and What Would Buddha Do? 101 Answers to Life's Daily Dilemmas by Franz Metcalf.

Another interesting read is A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis: The Eightfold Path to More Effective Problem Solving, in which author Eugene Bardach, a professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, uses the idea of the Eightfold Path to create courses of action or inaction taken by governmental bodies.

His version goes something like this:
1. Define the problem.
2. Assemble some evidence.
3. Construct the alternatives.
4. Select the criteria.
5. Project the outcomes.
6. Confront the trade-offs.
7. Decide.
8. Tell your story.

For some great tools that can help you put the “Eightfold Path” to practical use, enlighten yourself by visiting TEC's Evaluation Centers and start your “mindful” software selection today.
 
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