Evaluating software solutions in large complex organisations

Updated: Apr 20, 2019



Figure 1: VUCAP ESS (Evaluating & Selecting Software) Framework

The problem: Organisations are already using a number of different applications to solve a range of internal and external challenges. These challenges range from managing human resources to managing sales, supply chain logistics, operations, finance, compliance and many more. Adding another software solution can’t be done in isolation, the choice of software needs subject matter expertise as well as strategic integration. Without this integration, the application stands to solve one problem whilst creating many more.


The VUCAP ESS framework brings a range of factors together to identify convergence. This is important to ensure that the software not only meets internal and external requirements but is also culturally suited to the organisation. Without this, adopting the new software will become difficult and is likely to fail.


For each step of the process it is recommended that significant effort is applied to ensure the accuracy of each evaluation. This accuracy will be valuable when assessing points of congruence.


Figure two below, highlights the flow from Alignment and Congruence through to the development of the assessment criteria and decision making.



Once alignment and congruence between internal and external factors as well as strategic objectives has been established assessment design can begin, followed by assessment and ultimately decision making/ software selection.

Strategic Recommendations

1. Engage a diverse group to conduct assessments on internal and external factors whilst balancing against the specific discipline requirements (for example, if it is finance software, make sure finance people are involved throughout the assessments).


2. Keep asking "so what". The "so what" must relate specifically to the organisations strategic objectives. There must be a strategic alignment at each step of the decision making process. If it is deemed that there is a factor that must be considered that does not align with the organisation's strategy, you may have uncovered a weakness in the strategy.


3. Ensure that the software selection is "prepped" for implementation. This means that there is a strong enough business case to support the selection and implementation of the software. The business case should consider cultural factors as well as technical factors, much of this will be achieved by following the VUCAP ESS framework. By achieving this, successful adoption and implementation is more likely.


Conclusion

Often, too much focus is given only to the IT requirements and the discipline (i.e finance, marketing, payroll etc) requirements of new technology being considered in large complex organisations, without enough consideration for its adoptability. We see selecting and implementing new software applications in complex organisations as a significant change management project. Over 50% of change projects fail. We therefore recommend embedding change management principles into the evaluation of potential software applications, in turn, increasing the likelihood of success.

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