Last month, we walked through needs definition, the start of a business performance management (BPM) project. Hopefully, you arrive at this point with an accurate definition of needs, a budget and your stakeholders on board. With all that in place, you can tackle the request for proposal (RFP) and vendor evaluation process. This is easier said than done. In this process, you'll confront a growing number of choices, with marketing materials that sound alike, demos that look alike and crucial differences concealed in the detail.

The biggest risks in this phase include buying from the vendor with the best marketing, buying more than you need or buying from a vendor that won't mesh well with your company today or in the future. Secondary risks include getting inadequate "under-the-hood" detail, architectural incompatibilities and choosing the wrong implementation partners.

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