Jan. 28, 2022
All organizations are looking for appropriate, compatible, and high-quality products to meet employees and customers where they expect to be met. Maybe, your Chief Innovation Officer has a gadget for Artificial Intelligence, or a program manager uses software to organize and inform project contributors on a particular milestone. We all use “stuff” regularly and want the best items to meet our needs, improve productivity and enjoy the workplace!
During the product selection process, the hard work on the front-end screens out products that hardly work on the back end. The method of product evaluations includes initial screening, a preliminary examination, a detailed evaluation, implementation, and performance feedback.
Step 1: Do you already have what you need?
An organization should conduct a baseline inventory of the products they already use to understand their existing assets and capabilities. It also helps visualize the asset location, understand the lifecycle plan, and validate if current security controls are in place. This baseline understanding will spotlight gaps – if any – as you may already have what you need.
Step 2: Is this a game-changer, or does it simply change the game?
Needs are different from wants. I need food, water, and shelter, but I want a robot to deliver me food based on automated signals from my body. What separates a need from a want is often perspectives, which vary by individuals in an organization. Suppose you can connect the product to a strategic plan. In that case, it might be a game-changer to influence the organization’s success. This systematic management approach to classifying needs alongside the strategic plan allows organizations to work through processes designed to address the need first and the want later. This step encourages cross-functional communication, a necessity for less siloed operations, and delegates decision-making to the lowest level.
Step 3: What capability do you need?
We often think in terms of ‘I need product X’ and less in ‘I need a product that does A, B and C.’ To understand the capability your organization requires, focus on designing a capability-based matrix. For example, a desk holds my computer and router as both items must have airflow for maximum efficiency and long-term product sustainment. I need one desk measuring 3 ft. x 5 ft. for my office. This basic description of the need and specific recommendation clarifies the product. This can also trigger decision-makers to determine who and how many can benefit from the described product or alert another department with unused desks taking up space as an internal fix. This enables leaders to prioritize and fund enterprise-use cases over products that meet the needs of a few.
Step 4: How is the need described?
Specification documents designed with stakeholder input capture enterprise-wide capability requirements that would positively impact the organization. For example, a company may issue a ‘Sources Sought’ to gather inputs from vendors on what products they have that match the desired capability. These non-committal documents provide valuable insights that often troubleshoot gaps in written specifications or expose products previously unknown to an organization. For example, some products specifically designed for an alternate industry may fit the capability request and result in innovative growth solutions.
Step 5: What gets priority?
When capability requirements are generated from multiple stakeholders, adding a weighted value to the importance of the product capability selection criteria helps ensure an unbiased product purchase. Perhaps the purchase cost of the product is not as crucial as a role-based security capability. The weighted evaluation matrix streamlines decision-making to products that would generate the best value to the organization.
Step 6: Does it fit the exact need?
Responses to requests – regardless of type – can be captured manually or through platforms and applied to the weighted evaluation matrix. The organization’s size, scope, and complexity often dictate the manual or automated capture of submissions and allow organizations to narrow the number of potential products. Once the top few products are selected, demonstrations, testing, and pilot programs can occur before committing to full integration.
Globally, organizations face workforce shortages and struggle with the internal capacity to conduct a needs-based capability analysis. Instead, organizations make the best decisions with the information provided and time available – even if not the best fit. The fix? Some organizations have outsourced product sourcing, evaluation, and testing to a third party. This method allows organizations to remain hyper-focused on their core capabilities while bringing on products that drive them forward. A Win-Win.
Contact us for more info on how to streamline product evaluation or outsource the process.