Originally Posted on Apr 20 2011
If you, like me, have some gray hair, it is likely that you have been involved in some software selections. These are quite long and complex processes but in the smaller and smarter companies (like my friend Phil Simon sharply points out in his book).
Actually, there are good reasons to take plenty of time to make selections. Choosing an ERP is one of the key decisions a company can take; a wrong choice can wreck an entire business. Mike Krigsman runs an entire blog on the subject. Even Business Intelligence software is a choice not to be taken lightly to avoid wasting money, time and efficiency.
The software selection runs along common sense lines. The software is examined against some preliminary requisites. Its ecosystem, scalability, and cost are taken into account. This process is more or less accurate, but at the end a decision is reached.
Almost invariably the decision is to buy the software that will cause the smaller harm to deciders’ careers in case of failure.
There’s little to no point in performances, flexibility, ease of use and, up to a level, price. The one virtue the software must have is to be considered the most common market choice in the chosen price range and market.
I'm dramatizing, of course, otherwise no software would ever be sold, but this element, when real money is involved, becomes paramount. The top tier market clusters around few names even because they're perceived as safe bets which, in front of a failure, are not likely to be questioned.
How Oracle become Oracle? They were the first on the market, and they deserve an enormous credit for that, but their stack has long lost its appeal in the face of smaller but much more agile alternatives. Its ponderous an serious look conveys the idea of a truly professional system, the “best of breed” of databases. So, nobody has ever been fired for buying Oracle.
How SAP become SAP? The founders, back in 1972, were among the first to have the heart to produce an ERP software. Along decades, it become an outstanding piece of software, with numberless modules and functions. It is the largest business software in the world. It always retained that “German” look and earned the fame of a very reliable but inflexible system. In this way it become the unofficial standard for very large companies, where standardizing operations is considered paramount, and, for spirit of emulation, one of the most widespread in smaller businesses. Being perceived as the standard created a positive feedback. The more it spread, the more it was picked. And nobody has ever been fired for buying SAP.
There are some other examples like IBM PCs and DOS, or Internet Explorer 6, which were largely outperformed by competitors but remained de-facto standards for a long time.
When we get involved in those endless discussions about “which is the best software”, we should always keep in mind this point. The best software in the world will never sell a copy if it is perceived as a too risky bet.
I imagine that you do not agree with me in hordes. Feel free to flame me!
1575 views and 3 responses
Apr 20 2011, 5:48 AM
Kyle Chastain responded:
You define the issue well. However, risky in the eyes of the IT Department is very different from risky in the eyes of the end user. Many times it seems that the IT professionals mistake themselves as the customer. The end users have been ignored too long in these decisions due to the reasons Augusto points out above.
Apr 21 2011, 5:44 AM
Augusto Albeghi responded:
Yes Kyle, in selecting sw, the quality of user interface is often overlooked because the brass or the IT have other priorities.
Telling that a sw should be evaluated simply by what it does and how, sometimes is an heresy.
Apr 21 2011, 10:24 AM
Kyle Chastain responded:
Excellent points. Thanks for the hard hitting points presented in a humorous way. <o:p></o:p>