Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) applications are a part of most (perhaps every) medium to large enterprises. A lot of money is spent every year in selection and implementation projects of such applications - think millions to billions of dollars if you consider lost opportunity costs which are hard to measure.

Unfortunately, buying instead of building is no guarantee of success. Tales of monumental package implementation overruns and disappointing functionality - not to mention outright failures - abound.  These failures occur despite elaborate, detailed evaluation processes meant to select just the right package and reduce the risk of implementation. It is clear that businesses have to get better at researching, evaluating, and selecting software products.

In this talk we'll describe an approach to selecting and implementing package software that focuses on engineering quality and business agility.  We prefer an approach that involves hands-on, experiential hypothesis testing and evidence gathering over endless feature checklists and vendor demonstrations.

 
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Outline/structure of the Session

The presentation has three main sections:
 
  • We'll begin by briefly motivating the topic and describing our previous experiences with the usual approach of spreadsheets and sales pitches:
    • set the scene on how selection processes are typically done
    • what the main issues are with this approach
  • The main part of the talk will focus on describing a hypothesis-driven alternative method that we'll illustrate with a couple of examples from the insurance and banking industries
    • describe the hypothesis-driven, alternative approach
    • detail the characteristics that the selection process should focus on
      • CI/CD aspects
      • selection team composition
      • practical-learning approach
      • hands-on business alignment
      • licensing considerations
    • exemplify approach in the insurance and banking industries
  • Finally we'll end with an enterprise software industry call-to-action to improve the way software products are marketed, sold and licensed
    • call-to-action for businesses to improve their selection methods
    • call-to-action for software manufacturers

Learning Outcome

Lessons learnt and a proposed modern and lean approach for selecting a software package. One that embraces experimentation, continuous delivery and agility from day one, maximising business value:

  • the usual problems with applying the typical RFP-process, including examples of epic failures
  • an alternative, lean approach to selecting software
  • what characteristics to look for when selecting and why
  • how to apply the method, what skills a selection team should have
  • how long a hypothesis-driven selection should roughly go for
  • examples of the new method applied in the industry, its consequences and lessons learnt

Target Audience

People involved in the process of selecting and implementing software: business folks, developers, architects, project and programme managers, etc.

Prerequisite

Ideally know the basics of agile.

People who have participated in software selection processes in the past or are about to will probably get more out of the session.

schedule Submitted 1 week ago

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