Tool selection for any organization is a challenge. The reasons are both technical and cultural as in most cases there is always some tool that exists and the need is to have a better one which overcomes the challenges posed by the existing one. And at the same time ensuring that the resistance to this change is kept minimum or rather manageable.

As part of my consulting assignments, I was involved in conducting an ITSM tool selection exercise and I was part of a similar exercise done with in Zensar earlier. Though I was involved in ITSM tool selection but generalizing it to any tool selection would not be wrong either.

Let’s look at the reason for changing a tool and options available

  • The market and or technology have changed and the existing system has not been able to keep up.

  • The support for the tool has stopped and upgrade is required.

  • The existing tool could be customized by vendor, but the cost involved does not add up to ROI expected.

This list may go on based on various scenarios but essence of this that the organization has made up its mind to look out for a change with minimal impact on the current operations. Let’s look at the complexities involved in tool selection and the Questions that needs answers for

  • What is best – On-Premise or on Cloud?

  • Should you look for Software as a Service option?

  • How about going for an upgrade from the same vendor?

  • Should you compromise some features and get the best in class tool?

  • What is the status of the requirements? Do you know all of them or are they required to be identified?

  • How about integrations? What would happen to integrations existing with the current system?

  • Is there an option for custom application development or should you go for COTS?

  • And at the end there is always how much will all this cost?

For an enterprise that has multiple locations, vast user base and conflicting interest with in user groups, this is a highly complex scenario. To create a valid business case for decision making you would look at the various cost parameters and requirements compatibility with multiple tools in the market. The solution to this complex problem is as complex as it could be

Identify the requirements – Plain and simple and Validate with every stakeholder.

Do not spend more than 2 weeks to complete this as you would need to move on to the next stage. 100% complete requirements are not required – High level feature should be able to do.

  1. The As-IS implementation of the tool – How and what is being accomplished by the tool – Compliance to this would reduce resistance and shorten the implementation cycle.

  2. The Challenges and issues faced by the team – the reason why are you looking for a tool in the first place.

  3. Add Generic requirements to complete your requirement set.

Analysis of the Vendor response

Identify the vendors that meet the basic set – a Request for Information (RFI) should be able to get you through on this. But a self-study / analysis would be recommended and not just the RFI response as they may be misleading.

The Analysis results of the requirements could ideally be done based on

  • Requirement priority wise compatibility

  • Module wise compatibility of the tool

  • Cost responses from the vendor

The organization should have a clear cut idea of the ROI that they are looking at and by what time they would expect the break even.

Get the Operations Costs – Total cost of Ownership

The above parameters analyze the tool cost up till implementation but to complete the business case, you need to look at the tool from Total Cost of Ownership i.e. how much would it cost in a 5 year scenario.

In a nut shell, you are looking at analyzing the following basic parameters for decision making

  1. Requirements compatibility – how close the vanilla implementation is to the current requirements (lesser the Customization; lesser the cost and low on maintenance)

  2. Cost of Implementation and Customization ( including licenses and other details)

  3. Total cost of ownership over a period of 5 years.

The decision making process post this is just comparison. Though there are various other parameters that would contribute such as if local support available in your location, what has been the vendor’s history and how stable the Vendor is. All in all once the basic data collection for these vendors is collected with a comparative analysis done, the rest should be just as easy as it gets!


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Rahul Gupta
Senior Business Consultant, Process Consulting

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