Competing with Yourself When Evaluating Software

Analysis paralysis, inability to make a decision, over analyzing, fear of potential error…sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. Many people suffer from analysis paralysis every day when it comes to making purchase decisions, travel plans, and simple choices in their lives. But when it comes to business decisions such as buying enterprise software, analysis paralysis can have significant negative consequences and hinder company growth. So why do we feel the need to speak to so many potential software vendors when searching for a solution? Why are we constantly involving more experts in our decision-making process? Why do we sit through presentations and meetings and waste countless hours on Google…only to make no decision at all?

It’s hard to say why we have trouble making decisions aside from the fact that it’s in our nature to avoid the pain we associate with failure and mistakes. This pain comes from the fear of making the wrong decision. No matter how much time and energy you spend during the software search, there is never any guarantee that you are making the right decision, and it's detrimental to the decision-making process to assume that always performing more research, analyzing more data, and talking to more people will completely mitigate the risk of making the wrong decision. Although all these things can help you make the BEST decision, there comes a point where there is nothing to be gained from further analysis and it’s time to make a final decision - risk and all. Ultimately, the worst decision you can make for your business is no decision at all.

Deciding is the only way to move forward.

Successful business leaders know that to move forward means to make decisions, and they are confident in their ability to do so. They give direction and are willing to assume the risk and take responsibility for success or failure of any decision made.  They take calculated risks and are comfortable with uncertainty. They understand that making a decision, even if it’s the wrong one, is a step forward.

According to the article A Bad Decision is Better Than No Decision At All by Katherine Keller…“A person who makes a thousand wrong decisions is better off than a person who makes no decisions at all. Why? Because a person who has made a thousand wrong decisions has ruled out a thousand things that do not work for them. They are much better prepared to move forward towards success than the person who is in day four of watching PowerPoint presentations on Plan A vs. Plan B.” Too many options and too much analysis can actually have the reverse effect on decision-making. Instead of empowering business owners to confidently make decisions, it adds to the stress and anxiety already experienced when making a big purchasing decision. The buying process today is saturated with too much data, too many people involved in the sales process and too many options.

Don’t make decisions on price alone.  

To help with decision making, many businesses rely on comparing product pricing alone. However, price is only important if it’s not aligned with the market. If you’re finding that price is significantly different between the software vendors that you’re evaluating, perhaps you’re trying to compare solutions across different tiers – or you need to adjust your budget to fit the real-world. A solution that saves you time and money, has the right features and can scale with your business - all at a fair price - is more important than getting a solution at the lowest price.

How to Make the Best Decision: 

Implementing new enterprise software within your organization is likely one (if not the) biggest decision your company will ever make. Therefore, it’s important to dedicate time and resources to the search to ensure a decision is actually made in the end. No decision is still a decision – and frequently the worst decision your company can make. Try to remember why you started searching for a new solution in the first place and to help you avoid analysis paralysis during the search and evaluation process, consider the following:

Only evaluate a small number of software vendors.

Trying to evaluate too many software vendors can result in wasted resources, overwhelmed employees, and ultimately the wrong decision (or more likely, no decision at all).  It’s better to have more in-depth discussions with a few vendors than to skim the surface with a whole bunch. According to Columbia Business School Professor Sheena Iyengar, “Overall, choice overload reduces engagement, decision quality, and satisfaction”.

Involve the right people in the decision-making process at the right time.

It’s important to involve final decision makers as early in the sales process as possible. Once you have completed initial discussions and have a short-list of potential vendors, it’s time to involve decision makers in more in-depth discussions and demos. This prevents the situation where decision makers get brought in late and stall the decision-making process by asking questions that have already been answered. It’s also important that the people who have the authority to influence the decision are empowered to do so. To ensure buy-in from other team members and employees they need to believe in the person making the decision.

Stick to a plan.

Having a plan and then sticking to it is imperative in the decision-making process. This includes having specific timeframes for moving through the process and ultimately a final decision deadline. Break decisions into smaller steps such as compiling a list of business processes and requirements, initial conversations with vendors, in-depth evaluations and product demos. Any deviations from the plan should only happen for valid reasons – remember to focus on long-term business objectives and priorities, without getting caught-up in the day-to-day.

Focus on your objective and final outcomes.

It’s important to focus on the initial goals of your software search and not get caught up in all the bells and whistles. The right ERP software vendor will have advanced functionality that you can turn on later. Although it’s important to evaluate these types of features for future company growth, spending too much time reviewing features for future use will stall the decision-making process.

Remember, no matter how much information you gather during your search and evaluation process, there will always be more. And it’s very unlikely that you will find a solution that can meet 100% of your needs. This is where configuration and customization come into play. If you find a solution that can handle 80% of your business needs with a little configuration set-up, make sure you jump on the opportunity to help avoid the continuous loop of analysis paralysis.

Blue Link Software Buying Guide