Choose Wisely: The Pitfalls of Software Selection

You may recall a recent post in which we discussed some of the horrifying hardware setups we’ve encountered in the course of our work (if not, read it here), and the incredible risk exposure those situations create for any business.

What could be worse? Choosing the wrong software.

Your software solutions touch every single part of your business, and a misstep here can result in demotivated employees and unhappy customers. And once you’ve started down the wrong path it’s hard to go back. Few companies are willing to swallow their pride – and a huge investment – to admit a mistake and start over.

You wouldn’t attempt to construct a new building yourself … you’d hire an architect, a general contractor and others who know more about construction than you do. Yet time and again we see companies make wholesale software changes without seeking outside help and doing their due diligence, and that’s a mistake that can be hard to recover from.

Why do so many new software installations go sideways? Here are a few errors we see on a regular basis:

Top-down decision making: Often, management mandates a software change without the involvement of the front-line personnel who use it every day. This is a recipe for a building full of demotivated, “who moved my cheese?” employees. And that translates to unhappy customers as your team struggles to master their new reality.

Selection criteria: Believe it or not, the company who had slickest booth at the last trade show you attended is not necessarily the best choice as your new software vendor. Often firms are afflicted with a “no one else does what we do” mentality and limit their research to options specific to their industry. Chances are strong that there’s an off-the-shelf package that’s perfect for you … but it may not come from your vertical.

Overspending: Most companies don’t buy new software on a regular basis, and thus don’t understand the negotiation process. We hear some jaw-dropping numbers in our discussions. Overpaying for software is bad; overpaying for the wrong solution is worse.

So that’s what can go wrong. In our next post we’ll look at how an Executive Advisor can help you make sure it goes right.