I just came back from a Product Information Management (PIM) event this week and had a lot of discussions about how to evaluate vendors and their solutions.  I also get a lot of inquiries on vendor selection and while a lot of the questions center around the functionality itself, how to evaluate is also a key point of discussion.  

What piqued my interest on this subject is that IT and the Business have very different objectives in selecting a solution for MDM, PIM and data quality. In fact, it can often get contentious when IT and the Business don't agree on the best solution. 

General steps to purchase a solution seem pretty consistent: create a short list based on the Forrester Wave and research, conduct an RFI, narrow down to 2-3 vendors for an RFP, make a decision. But, the devil seems to be in the details.  

Is a proof of concept required?

  • How do you make a decision when vendors solutions appear the same? Are they really the same?
  • How do you put pricing into context? Is lowest really better?
  • What is required to know before engaging with vendors to identify fit and differentiation? 
  • When does meeting business objectives win out over fit in IT skills and platform consistency?

We all talk about understanding strategy first and then selecting the technology. But, vendor selection all too often seems to be the first step, with preparation for the evaluation lagging behind. When a solution costs approximately $1 million and goes up significantly from there with development and implementation services, it only makes sense that establishing clarity in a “to be” state is critical. However, evaluations tend to focus on the features and functionality that is already evaluated and reported on in research reports. What seems to make sense is to evaluate a solution in context of your expectations from an IT and business perspective. That appears to be the great divide - what you need and how you evaluate.
So, help me with research that goes deeper into vendor and solution selection for MDM, PIM and Data quality. Tell me:

  • What preparation is critical to create an RFI and RFP?
  • What you would do differently today if you knew then what you know now?
  • What do you do to get alignment between IT and the Business in the decision process?
  • What makes a great vendor and solution selection process?

This blog originally appeared at Forrester Research.

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