Shopping for Solutions:
The Deciding Factor:
When it comes to deploying a corporate intranet portal, or building a collaborative solution, there’s always “someone” responsible for making the ultimate decisions on which direction you will take.
In the Software industry, you’ll hear common terms, like “TDM” and “BDM”. These terms are used (mostly) for marketing to different types of decision makers in the software and/or technology solution purchasing process.
TDMs – Technical (or Technology) Decision Makers – Typically responsible for making decisions on and/or evaluating software or technological solutions. TDMs look at the underlying technology that will, potentially, be used to help solve a business problem or to address business needs.
TDM’s can range from a subject matter expert (SME) on a specific product or technology, to technical managers, or even C-Level executives (CIO / CTO, for Example).
BDMs – Business Decision Makers – Typically responsible for making decisions about how to handle business problems, often times this includes being involved in software / solution purchase decisions that will enable the organization to achieve a business goal.
BDM’s are usually someone with influence and tenure within the organization. Typically, they are Managers, Directors, or Executives with vested interest in the solutions that this software or technology purchase will provide to the business.
After the Purchase:
Once your company purchases a product or solution, it’s really time to, “Put up or shut up”. Now, you’re tasked with getting this solution into place quickly, correctly, and as advertised. As we all know, this is often easier said than done.
Whether or not you’re capable of pulling of the solution deployment flawlessly, is of far less consequence than we are often lead to believe. You see, the end-users are the ones who will have their hands on this technology. They will be the ones in the trenches each day and, ultimately, the users will make the decision as to whether or not this software solution was considered a success.
Who are the “real” decision makers?
The end-users should be carefully considered when you are evaluating a potential software or technological solution to solve specific business problems. If you approach the users before you evaluate a software or solution purchase, they can (and will) quickly tell you what they like and what they dislike about their current processes or solutions.
Most likely, you’ll hear MUCH more about what makes them miserable (look for broken pencils, crumpled up paper, and scribble doodles of the boss in a hangman’s noose!). This is a good thing – the identification of “bad stuff” – not the drawings and pencil shards. Having this knowledge makes it easy for you to understand what’s painful and where to focus your attention when evaluating software and/or technology-based solutions.
You should also involve the end-users during the process of solution evaluation. Mix it up a little, too. Find a “rookie”, an “old-timer”, and maybe one of your top performers from the teams involved. Get a mixture of opinions on what’s need – and why they think they need it (make sure it’s justified).
Mixing it up not only helps you put your best foot forward when developing a solution, but it also boosts morale. Yes – it does! Users feel better when their feedback is solicited. They feel really good when their feedback is used. They feel super-exited when their feedback saves the day!
Spread the love. Spread the respect. Spread the rewards. This is the stuff that takes your business to the next level!
Once the solution is purchased and/or built, you need to… (you guessed it) get the Users’ feedback again. Users need to “use”, test, expirement, and evaluate the solutions. Ultimately, the users will decide if the solution is good.
- Does the solution work the way they work?
- Does it make some of their old aches and pains go away?
- Does it empower them or free up their time to add more value to the business? Does it eliminate their mundane, repetitive tasks?
If you answered, “no” to any of these questions, you may want to re-think your decision.
User Adoption Breeds Success:
If the users don’t like your solution, they won’t use it. It’s that simple. If they are “forced” to use it, they will take short-cuts at every opportunity (rendering your fancy, new solution useless) and/or complain about it relentlessly. Without user adoption, no solution can succeed, and who wants a solution that’s not going to succeed? Nobody.
The key is to involve your end users. Before. During. After. DO IT! You will have no greater impact on your company than you will by involving the users in your solution decisions.