Friday, 28 February 2014

3 Ways to Investigate Technologies

After a frantic few weeks of trying out a range of new technologies for our support system at Kineo Pacific we've finally made our choice and looking to launch with the new system on Monday morning!  It's not been that easy a process actually and I've invested a lot of time and energy into it! That set my wheels in motion about the process that our clients often have in choosing their technologies; be it an LMS or a development tool.  Here's my quickie process guide on how to go about it:

Easy
  • If you know someone who is using a system doing a job similar to you and loves the system ask them to show you.  If you like it and can afford it then job done.  Get that system and start cooking.
Medium
 Okay, whilst I love the approach above, in today's world of accountability and due diligence you may have to put more into it.  Here's the approach I'd probably take next:
  • Before you trial and investigate or play start with a simple list of what you want your system to do.  Don't get caught up in the weeds here, simple 'do this' or 'do that' will be good enough to get you going.  I'd write that list as columns across the top of a spreadsheet if I wanted to get fancy about it.
  • Do some research.  Sounds easy right?  It's not that bad in the days of Google, go get yourself a list of companies and solutions and put them down as rows on your spreadsheet.
  • Get the pricing (ball-park may be good enough) for every .  I know lots of vendors want you to know how great the system is before revealing the pricing but from a buyers perspective I don't care how great your support system is (for example) if it costs a bucket of gold per staff member per day.
  • Cross off anything that's more than twice your price limit unless the entire list is blank.  If it's blank your expectations are out of kilter and you need to rethink this whole thing.
  • Do a quick check on the features of each system and match them with your list making a simple requirements and systems grid.
  • Use this grid to do nothing but narrrow down your choices to two or three systems.  Give them a try and 9 times out of 10 the answer will be clear - particularly if the support and help during trial is really good.  
Hard
So, you don't like the Medium style approach and you definitely don't want to take it too easy on yourself that only really leaves you the hard road.  Of course you may be in an organisation that insists this is the only way to do it so there you go!
  • Start a tender process.
  • Lose the will to live during the process.
  • Roll a dice at the end of the process because you've over analysed the problem. 
Okay, that was a bit tongue in cheek - I know some tenders are really well run and they tend to be a bit like the medium route if done correctly.  If you are forced to tender by organisational policy, remember to keep your requirements high level and not get sucked into the deep deep weeds; that's where the snakes hide!

In the simplest of worlds if you can get a recommend that's always best.  Of course whether you choose medium or hard routes through this - possibly the single biggest sway for you should be if you can get a good recommend from someone you know and trust... or at least respect!