In Part I of Project Management Tool Selection, I discussed the importance of getting the right requirements when selecting an enterprise project management tool. With so many enterprise implementations costing more than originally forecast and taking significantly longer to implement than planned, it makes sense to ensure that you’re selecting the right tool for your organization.
In Part II, I want to cover vendor demonstrations. It is amazing how they can make a huge difference to the determination of which vendor is chosen. This is the second most common problem with tool selection that we encounter – after tool requirements which were discussed in Part I.
While this may not surprise you, we’ve seen vendors with the enterprise project management tool that best satisfies the requirements taken off the selection list because the product demonstration didn’t go well. Some more recent examples include…
- Technology glitches – This can happen to anyone who performs live demonstrations. The important thing to understand here is whether it’s a characteristic of an immature product or a more serious issue, or simply configuration errors, user error, etc. We have seen many products demonstrated that suffered technical glitches or human error resulting in their removal from the selection list; products that otherwise have a great track record and are being used successfully in the real world.
- Vendor lacks understanding of your organization’s requirements – There are many causes for this including: vendor staff changes, lack of preparation, lack of industry knowledge, apathy, etc. The important thing, again, is to understand why and make an objective judgment based on logical reasoning.
- Vendor lacks knowledge of its own product – This is unforgivable but does occur. Again, vendor staff attrition, lack of resource availability on the demonstration date scheduled or simply a bad resource call by the vendor. While this reflects poorly on the vendor, it does not necessarily mean that the tool suite is a bad fit or that after-sales support would be lacking.
- Vendors promoting features that look great but aren’t necessary – It’s not the vendors’ fault (well, it is really), but they just can’t help it. They promote features that demonstrate well, but may have little effect on your real world use of the tool. They do this to eliminate other competitors from your vendor selection list who don’t have these features; which of course is precisely the point!
These are just a few examples and it may not be easy to recognize whether there are serious issues with a vendor’s product or something just simply went wrong at the worst possible time. It certainly is easy to be wowed by a great product demonstration that can affect objectivity and ultimately your decision.
The important thing is for you to be in control of the demonstration process. Although selecting an enterprise project management tool seems straightforward, getting external help to guide you though the tool selection process can help save time and a potential costly mistake.
Remember: Make sure you end up with what you need and not what you ask for!