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Solution Selection and Acquisition Approach

There are four steps to selecting and acquiring an IT solution as shown below:

Step 1 - Specify Evaluation Criteria

This step defines the criteria that will be used to assess the IT solutions identified in Step 2. This is a crucial step as the solution chosen will only be as good as the criteria used to evaluate it. Typically the following are included in the evaluation criteria:
  • IT functional and non-functional requirements.
  • IT Infrastructure requirements.
  • Total cost of solution (normally over a five year period).
  • Risks associated with solution.

Step 2 - Identify Solution Options

Potential solutions to meet the business needs are identified in this stage. The solution options will fall into one, or a combination of, the following four categories:
  • Reuse an existing solution.
  • Lease a solution e.g. Cloud solution or SaaS solution.
  • Purchase a Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) product.
  • Develop a business specific solution.
Potential solutions are typically identified using one, or a combination of, the following approaches:
  • Investigating IT solutions already in place.
  • Researching and approaching the marketplace e.g. tendering.
  • Asking internal IT resources if they can develop a solution.

Step 3 - Assess Solution Options

Solutions options identified in Step 2 are usually narrowed down to create a short-list which will be assessed in more detail. The short-listing process uses mandatory selection criteria identified in Step 1 to eliminate solution options that are not practical. The short-listed options are then assessed and scored against all the selection criteria using the following techniques:
  • Vendor presentations and demonstrations.
  • Paper based evaluation using solution documentation and vendor’s written responses to requirements.
  • Hands-on evaluation of the solution.
  • Reports from reference sites that currently use the solution.
  • Vendor background checks.
  • Other information gathered, e.g. issues with the solution that were identified during the assessment.

Step 4 - Procure Chosen Solution

Once the best solution has been identified, contract negotiations with the supplier can take place. Good contract negotiations will ensure the following:
  • The business gets value for money.
  • Any issues identified with the solution are effectively managed.
  • The business is supported by the supplier during and after the implementation of the solution.
  • Any required changes/configuration to the solution are agreed, costed and planned.
  • All risks are managed, i.e. what happens if the supplier goes out of businesses at a later stage?
After contract negotiations have completed, the procurement of the chosen solution can commence. This is normally done in stages (progress payments) during the implementation of the solution.