To make a truly sound decision, buyers must know how software will impact their company. The software must be assessed in the context of other company systems. A list of requirements can be misleading because some of the requirements may already be met by other resources. But you can’t just ignore those requirements: if a new product is better at them than the existing tools, the value of that improvement should matter. To place the new product in context, the evaluation team must first describe how the company functions today and then see what would change if the new product were added.

The mechanics of this approach are not so different from conventional assessments. It still starts with a requirements list, preferably built by analyzing company processes through scenarios. What’s different is the next step: preparing a set of scores for how well each requirement is met today. This is the “base case.” Then the team creates additional sets of scores for the base case plus each new system (less existing systems that would be removed, if any).

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