previous post on the buying process I mentioned that in my experience, an effective purchaser of KM solutions needs to have answers to a number of WHY, WHO, HOW, WHAT, WHERE and WHEN questions. I shall now reveal the “Why, Who and How” questions that you’ll need to cover!
WHY: To quote Nancy Kerrigan, “WHY…WHY…WHY?” If the answer is “well, I would really like one to make it easier for me to do my job,” that’s insufficient. You’ll need to make a legitimate business case to get the approval you’re looking for, specifying “day in the life” challenges that would be eliminated or made significantly easier with a new KM system. Do you understand the drivers that create the need for your company to spend additional dollars on new software? Answering the following will help you to focus:
- Why are we looking at this now?
- Why haven’t we done this in the past?
- Why would this make things that are currently problematic, better?
- Why would I need to purchase a new piece of software? Do we have something in place already that is underutilized?
WHO: It’s good practice to have the support of multiple people from different departments. Make sure you understand the position and requirements of everyone with a stake in your purchase. Definitely get your IT team involved early and make them a partner in your process. They can help you understand the most important “who” related question: Is the implementation of the proposed solution part of a larger effort within the company, and if so, who is the main decision maker for the overall project?
- Who are the key stakeholders for your proposed solution?
- Who will benefit the most from having instant access to our corporate repository?
- Who will help implement from the IT side and end-user/admin side of the house?
- Who has the budget for this?
- Who will sign the contract?
- Who will issue the PO and how does this happen?
- Does the vendor we are looking at meet our corporate requirements for doing business?
HOW: It’s good project management practice to do a reverse timeline of the buying process. Start with the date you envision having your first user log-in and perform a search, then go backwards. For example: let’s say it’s January 20, 2014. Your first user should log in on June 30th, 161 days from now. Your contracts department typically takes 30 days for legal evaluation and to issue a purchase order; you also know that it takes 4 weeks to implement the solution and that your preferred solution has a waiting list of 4 weeks, so you’ll need to order by March 30, 2014 in order to be up and running by June 30, 2014. But wait, your company requires an investigation of 3 vendors for any new software - that will take 20 days; they also require a Request for Proposal – that will take 10 days to write and get approval before release, plus 3 weeks for the vendors to reply …you see where I’m going with this. So if you don’t know how your organization makes purchasing decisions, you may ultimately be unable to make the purchase, or will likely experience delays that prevent having the solution in place by the “Go-Live” deadline. In addition to knowing how decisions get made, you’ll need to know exactly how you’ll roll out the platform.
- How will you implement the solution - will you have internal support or be relying on the vendor to perform most the work?
- How much budget do you have? (Knowing this will help eliminate vendors who are outside your price range and save you valuable time ; there is very little point spending 1.5 months talking to a vendor only to realize they are 200% high than your total budget).
- How much time and money will this solution save my company in the first 6 months, 12 months and 24 months? (Also known as ROI – “return on investment”)
In my next (and final) post on this topic, I’ll share the “What, When and Where” of the buying process with you …please stay tuned.