Tip 1: Treat RDM software selection as any other project. Follow your project lifecycle and requirements definition and management (RDM) process—as you would for any other project. Apply sound project management and business analysis practices to assure that the solution you select best meets your need. Have your priority requirements drive the selection of the best software solution for your organization. There are dozens of viable solutions in this relatively niche market—covering a vast spectrum of capabilities. A Cadillac solution with features and integrations that are not needed may not be any better than a simpler approach that meets the core requirements of the organization—and at its current level of maturity. Likewise, a simple solution might not provide long term viability as the organization matures. Use a requirements-driven approach to ensure focus is placed on needs as opposed to vendor bells and whistles.
Tip 2: Define your objectives. In order to define and prioritize requirements, set improvement goals and objectives early in the tool selection process. The project manager and business analyst for the RDM software selection project should set measurable objectives to be achieved. This will help define appropriate scope for the project, provide the relevant evaluation criteria and keep the software selection process on track.
Tip 3: Understand your proposed RDM process. Make sure you have clearly defined and documented the requirements-related activities and business rules that the software is intended to support. While some solutions may result in adaptations to your standard process, do not assume or rely on the vendor’s workflows to fit your application and product development process. If the current process is not working effectively, refine it. If specific RDM goals are not being met, address these professional development and organizational maturity improvement objectives first. A software implementation project will require many changes to operations. Do not add extra risk by not having your house in relative order first.
Tip 4: Generate requirements from process mapping. Drive your requirements out of a clear understanding of the desired RDM lifecycle (as expressed in use cases or process models.) Process mapping identifies requirements critical to the success of the RDM software application. Use process mapping to arrive at a full view of requirements—including both those to be addressed by the RDM application and the requirements to be addressed outside of the application.
Tip 5: Understand the integrations and interdependencies with related tools, methodologies, and processes. Use enterprise business architecture and context modeling techniques to show how the various software tools and applications are used throughout the entire software development and project management life cycles. Document the inputs, outputs, standards, non-functional requirements, and impact of alternate and related processes and methodologies. Do not limit the analysis of system integration to just tools, and to just the RDM process.
Tip 6: Select a short list of three vendors. A set of prioritized high-level requirements can be initially used to determine the two or three vendors that can best meet these needs. A small number of vendors is desired for the short list. There are a number of methods to select the short list vendors – from RFI and demos to internal, less formal evaluations. Too many vendors making the short list is an indication that requirements definition has not produced sufficiently differentiating features and that any product can do.
Tip 7: Test the products. Many RDM software vendors will provide evaluation licenses or will provide a testing environment for their software. Identify pilot projects (real or simulated) to test each of the shortlisted product offerings. Use experienced business analysts or consultants that understand the products to effectively evaluate their capabilities.
Tip 8: Evaluate the vendor proposals. With a defined and weighted acceptance criteria and vendor scorecarding methodology, assess the vendors proposed solutions. Ensure that the RFP, demos, solution testing, vendor presentations, interviews and reference checks covered all the relevant requirements and considerations.
Tip 9: Select your vendor. Basing your selection on a requirements-driven vendor scorecard and sound procurement practices will assure your success. Be mindful that the top software solutions will address a majority of the needs of most organizations and few will actually use all of the features of the vendor’s product. There is a point of diminishing returns on the time that is spent in evaluating vendors and their product offerings. Be wary of overweighting license costs as a decision criterion. While cost is important, too much focus on price can overshadow other vendor selection criteria such as how well the product meets the needs of all of the intended users, how well it works with your existing architecture, and how well the vendor will be able to support you today—and in the future.
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