When an organization decides to
acquire new software, the task of finding the right solution usually falls to a
single individual or a team of employees. It’s common for that group to start by
searching for the best-rated, most-used solutions on the market. While this
approach isn’t completely off base, it’s not quite the best practice a
professional consultant would recommend. Read on to learn why it’s better to
prioritize your processes over products when choosing new software.
If you’re looking for software, it’s because you recognize a need that your current infrastructure can’t fulfill. Before you start researching any feature sets or popular products, you must clearly define the problem you’re trying to solve.
Because this is the true motivator for
the solution you’re going to purchase. It’s the main theme that will underpin the
product features you’re looking for.
Many products will have similar feature
sets, and as you start to look through them, it’s easy to get sucked down a rabbit
hole of indecision. Going into that project with a full understanding of how
those features relate to your processes helps
you pick the solution that best fits your goals. There are a few basic steps to
doing that, which I’ll explain next.
Start with the User Stories & Requirements
Let’s say your motivator for buying
new software is that you need better automation. What does “better automation”
Which of your current processes aren’t
How will those processes need to
How do specific types of users want the
automation to function for their work?
User stories help you identify the
outcomes you’re looking for so you can then translate that to the product
features you actually need to improve your processes. Here are some examples of
user stories around automation:
- As a sales rep,
I want to automatically track leads so I can monitor my progress towards sales
- As a
marketing manager, I want to automate the MQLs to SQL handoff based on triggers
so I won’t have to do it manually
- As a customer
service rep, I want to automate ticket routing so tickets are properly prioritized
without manual intervention
Teams work together (and a consultant
can guide the process, too) to define user stories that matter. It is from
these user stories that the requirements for your project are set. Requirements
are the business and technical must-haves that guide your product selection.
When you know your user stories and requirements, you can start to look at
products with features that fit that model.
Weigh Your Requirements
Defining user stories and
requirements puts you on the path to selecting the right software, but when it
comes time to look at actual product features, things can get messy…
It’s unlikely one solution will have
all the features you want out-of-the-box, and some may have a bunch of extra
features you don’t even need.
So, what do you do?
List out all your defined
requirements, then weigh them numerically (ex: range of 1-5) based on their
relevance to your ultimate goal.
What result can we absolutely not
live without from this software purchase? What are the most important capabilities
we have to come away with to meet our needs?
An experienced consultant will guide
you through this process and help you calculate a score for each requirement. The
top requirements will inform the top product features you’re looking for.
Your list will distinguish your must-have
features from your nice-to-have features, making it faster to narrow down products
that excel in those areas and choose which ones you want to demo.
The End Game
With the user stories and requirements
clearly defined, you gain ultimate control of your software selection. You know
exactly what you must have and what you can live without. Selecting an
application this way minimizes risks to your implementation, improves the
adoption of the solution, and solidifies the long-term viability of how the
solution will evolve your other products and processes. So, as you prioritize
processes over products, remember:
- Go in with a specific definition of the problem you’re trying to solve and relate it to what’s missing in your current processes
- Get input from users on how those processes must change and use those user stories to define requirements for the solution
- Rank requirements by importance and use those to guide product features
- Then—and only then—start looking at products that fit your feature hierarchy
- Narrow your options and schedule demos ONLY with the solutions that match up