ERP, CRM, Cybersecurity, Intranets, LMS and eCommerce are some of the technology categories commonly associated with a formal technology evaluation process.
A thorough technology evaluation is often an in-house effort, but many companies contract with third parties for assistance with an evaluation.
Why do some companies bring in a third party? They may not have the inclination to do the requisite staff interviews. They may not have time to research the market for a short list of potential solutions.
If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
When a company does hire a third party to help with technology evaluation, it would seem logical to reach out to a technology services company. After all, these companies specialize in delivering technology solutions — so they know technology the best, right?
But, as the law of the instrument and Maslow’s hammer declare, “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
Beginning a technology evaluation with a focus on the nuts and bolts of vendor solutions can result in an overcommitment to technology for the sake of technology. It can also extend the evaluation process. It’s important to view technology as a means to an end, not as a destination.
A technology services company may also have an agenda — getting a technology evaluation customer into a product they provide consulting services for.
View technology as a means to an end, not as a destination.
An Organizational Approach to Technology Evaluation
By delaying the technology vendor feature/functionality conversation and focusing on identifying business problems that need solving, it’s more likely that a company will ultimately end up with the best-fit technology solution.
The alternative approach to technology evaluation is taking a management consulting perspective. The Wikipedia definition of management consulting is, “the practice of helping organizations to improve their performance, operating primarily through the analysis of existing organizational problems and the development of plans for improvement.”
Not all these resulting plans involve acquiring new technology, but some do. The ones that do become cataloged as a business requirement.
Through this approach, technology becomes a part of a broader vision for company success. It creates an environment in which there’s a habit of asking, “what’s the business need, and does it even make sense to apply technology to that need?” If it would cost more to automate a certain process than to continue with a manual process, then why automate that process?
Getting to The Technologies
Only once the main organizational problems have been identified and there’s a definition as to how some of those problems can be solved by technology, does it makes sense to begin the focus on technology vendors.
The technology evaluation will now have a basis in organizational need.
A management consulting approach to technology evaluation will not only result in the best-fit solution, but it is also likely to increase the return on investment for the chosen solution.