A selection process for a PIM system is no different from that of any other business process software. As with the choice for an ERP or CRM system, it requires time and effort to select the right software vendor and integrator. We recommend the following approach:
Create a Decision Making Unit (DMU)
Form a team of all stakeholders involved in your organization. Also include ICT to make sure that the technical quality of the system can be validated. Keep the team small (5–6 people) and consisting of actual users and experts. If necessary, create a steering committee to which the DMU reports for management buy-in and financial backing.
Do Not Speak to Vendors
Agree within the DMU not to speak to vendors. All good sales people will try to adapt your decision-making framework to the functionality their systems offer. Create your own first.
Create Your Own Feature List
Determine which processes actually need to be supported. Determine the priority per feature. The MoSCoW methodology works fine if you give it a value:
- 0 “Not needed”
- 1 “Would have”
- 2 “Could have”
- 4 “Should have”
- 0 “Must have features”.
Be careful with making features mandatory “must haves”. If a system cannot provide a mandatory feature, it should be kicked out.
Consider which other business processes you might want to cover with the new system. Do product lifecycle management or ecommerce processes play an important role? Add them to your feature list. It may also help in getting more sponsors and financial resources for the project.
Include Other Criteria
Apart from the functional match, there are several other criteria that can be added:
- Customer satisfaction: try to ask for references to assess the vendors.
- Organizational match: this criteria is highly subjective. What it means to do is assess whether the vendor match with your organization. Look at their size for example.
- Total cost of ownership (TCO): attempt to translate the pricing models of the different vendors into one uniform amount; the TCO per year that includes all costs categories. Capital expenditure costs are to be spread across at least be 5–7 years.
- Vendor reliability: Is the vendor financially healthy? Is it likely to be bought by a larger software vendor? Important questions to consider.
Rank Your Criteria List
Which criteria are really important? Try to give each criteria a weight. An example weighting could be:
- Functional match: 60 %
- Customer satisfaction: 20 %
- Organizational match: 20 %
- Total Cost of Ownership: 10 %
- Vendor reliability: 10 %
Create a Shortlist
We have seen many companies invite five or more suppliers. In general a person already has a hard time choosing from three options. Create a shortlist. If it is not “out-of-the-box”, ask for an estimate in additional development hours. In this way you can get a better understanding of the actual implementation effort and total software and integration costs.
Demand an Intensive Demo
We do not recommend only working with questionnaires that ask about the extent to which their software meets the feature list. Most will state they can support all features. Asking the vendor to demonstrate all features on a working system is much more insightful. It not only tells you if the feature is really supported, but also to what extent and how easy it is for users to work with the system.