I recently have been in the market for a new pair of running shoes. To most people, purchasing a new pair of shoes comes without a second thought; I see things a little differently. A good friend once told me that if there were two items that were worth spending money on it’s mattresses and shoes, because you spend half your lifetime in one or the other. So in search for my new pair of shoes, I found myself evaluating many different aspects of footwear. The materials, quality, fit, purpose, reputation, price, even the level of support and warranty offered by the manufacturer of the shoe all came under scrutiny in my evaluation. Once my criterion was met I was able to make a conscious decision.
At this point, you’re probably wondering what my search for new footwear has to do with anything IT related. Over the past few weeks I’ve been involved in consultation engagement to select a software solution for an ongoing project at my full time job. It was during the second proof of concept testing that it dawned on me that my evaluation of this security implementation has a lot in common with my search for my next pair of kicks. Critically evaluating the same areas of concern as my running shoes, I was able to provide greater value to the project by selecting an appropriate solution. In the following sections I’ve selected the three most important factors that I found helpful in both cases.
I found that this aspect of the software evaluation process was the most important of the metrics. Like shoes, purchasing a software solution is meaningless unless it fits its intended purpose. When you think about it, you wouldn’t purchase stilettos for running a marathon… then again, maybe you would, who am I to judge. The point is to select the best piece of software for the intention of its use. There are many good resources from companies like Gartner that show software solutions for many different technology paths.
Size is one of the most important aspects of shoe and software purchasing. Of course you wouldn’t purchase a size 4 shoe for a size 11 foot. The fit alone would make the product unusable. In the same respect purchasing a larger shoe for a small foot may serve a purpose if you anticipate growth to support the purchase of a larger shoe. These same concepts apply to the selection process of software solutions. Let’s say your user base is 100 people, selecting a solution that is only scalable to 20 users will likely under perform and result in system stability issues following implementation. Adversely, selecting a program that is designed for hundreds or thousands of users may result in higher costs and wasted funds. As such this translates to our next element of evaluation, cost.
Whether for shoes, software, clothes or cars, price is likely a factor by which you make your selection. In most cases price negotiation is possible when the software implementation is of a substantial price. However when the software is lower in cost, room for negotiation is sometimes nonexistent. While cost analysis is something that could be compared between both shoe buying and software, there would likely not be any negotiation process for footwear. Ultimately cost of either item is something that will come under the most scrutiny.
Finally, I took the liberty to look into product warranty and support standards. In the case of the shoe purchases I took into account the warranty that was offered by the manufacturer. Shoe manufacturers that offer extended support for the product line often produce a premium product over their competitors. In the world of software vendors, the saving grace relies with the support of the product. When a vendor takes the time and cost to setup a superior support structure around their product, this can speak volumes of the product line and company as a whole. Having premium support and backing for a product will save lots of headaches down the road.
After assessing each point for my software evaluation, I was able to make a conscious recommendation to my customer. The end result being a product that fit appropriately to the user scope and cost less than alternate products. Additionally the support agreement was suitable for the implementation and on going support of the environment. I also purchased my new running shoes, which after all of my assessment I ended up with great pair of shoes that were admittedly more expensive than I budgeted. I suppose that sometimes you get what you pay for.