Buying business software can be a tricky business. Pay attention to these truths and warnings.

Tony Byrne, Contributor

December 16, 2013

3 Min Read

5. Technology selections must be test-based
The three keys to selecting software are test, test, and test. All else is guesswork. Don't waste your time building massive spreadsheets asking for checkbox answers to vague statements about integration, ease of use, and robust support. (On that last one, I'll offer a tip: All enterprise vendor tech support sucks; it's just a question of how bad.) Instead, rely on testable, narrative use cases as the core of your selection process.

Enterprises sometimes resist this because testing takes time and effort. Selection team leaders rightfully ask how much they should invest here. The answer depends on how important the technology is to your business success. What's the cost of picking technology that plays out as a poor fit -- or outright failure?

Incidentally, we find that iterative, empirical testing usually saves you time in the end. It improves your negotiating position and reduces the infamous gap between product selection and implementation.

Lesson: Empiricism is your best friend here.

6. Technology is not intrinsically a good thing
You already know that most technology implementations fail to bring expected business returns. So beware of analysts who cheerlead for the technology industry or a particular software segment, and avoid pundits who assume that technology adoption is a sign of enlightenment.

First, ask yourself: "Do we really have a technology problem here?" If you can't answer that definitively, you should pause and reflect further on the next steps to take.

Above all, don't look at a technology acquisition as an end in itself. You may achieve some program milestones by selecting and implementing new software, but did you really improve your business? Did you make your customers more satisfied? Did you make your employees more effective?

Lesson: Shape your technology selection efforts as the first step in a journey that has clear business objectives along the way, and don't hesitate to terminate a purchase entirely if you discover that new technology won't take you where you need to go.

What do you think?
You may sense a bit of cynicism in this list, but hopefully you'll see some passion, too. As an integrator myself in the 1990s, I got so frustrated witnessing poor technology choices in the initial stages of big enterprise initiatives that I decided to shift careers to see if I could do something about it.

Enterprise technology buyers deserve the right software fit. The right technology and vendor aren't sufficient for business success, but they're usually a necessary precondition.

But what about you, the enterprise customer, and the lessons you've learned? Did I miss any big ones? Chime in using the comment section below.

Tony Byrne is a 20-year technology industry veteran and president of Real Story Group, which focuses primarily on research on enterprise collaboration software, SharePoint, and web content management.

There's no single migration path to the next generation of enterprise communications and collaboration systems and services, and Enterprise Connect delivers what you need to evaluate all the options. Register today and learn about the full range of platforms, services, and applications that comprise modern communications and collaboration systems. Register with code MPIWK and save $200 on the entire event and Tuesday-Thursday conference passes or for a free expo pass. It happens March 17-19 in Orlando, Fla.

About the Author(s)

Tony Byrne


Tony Byrne is the president of research firm Real Story Group and a 20-year technology industry veteran. In 2001, Tony founded CMS Watch as a vendor-independent analyst firm that evaluates content technologies and publishes research comparing different solutions. Over time, CMS Watch evolved into a multichannel research and advisory organization, spinning off similar product evaluation research in areas such as enterprise collaboration and social software. In 2010, CMS Watch became the Real Story Group, which focuses primarily on research on enterprise collaboration software, SharePoint, and Web content management.

Never Miss a Beat: Get a snapshot of the issues affecting the IT industry straight to your inbox.

You May Also Like

More Insights