Top ten tips: Michael Ord on choosing core tech for business

Michael Ord, Qualsys.
Michael Ord, Qualsys.
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Michael Ord, from Sheffield-based Qualsys, a quality management software provider, on choosing core tech for business.

1: Benchmark. You should only invest in technology that meets a requirement for your business. Build a benchmarking survey to ask colleagues about their main frustrations and bugbears. Look for trends and commonalities: that’s your starting point.

2: Find the North Star. Your ‘North Star Metric’ is the one-line summary of what you want your new technology to change about your business. Make it strong, simple and ‘tweet-sized’, then keep it in mind throughout the entire project.

3: Score. Build a requirements document listing every feature you need and would like to see in your tech. Use a scorecard to measure vendors according to their ability to meet those requirements.

4: Focus on integration. Single-use tech that sits in a silo will only get you so far. Integration with your existing toolset should be a key requirement.

5: Look forward. Ensure that the technology you want to buy is forward-looking: if it’s a SaaS solution, is it regularly supported to match industry changes and best practice? Will it still be here in five years?

6: Avoid the ‘disappearing vendor’. Following up from this, choose a vendor with a long-term focus on working with you. You want a vendor that’s also a partner, with ongoing services and support – not one that will sell to you and then disappear into the sunset.

7: Tier your users. Not everyone will use your tech in the same way. It’s important to consider your various ‘tiers’ of users; how they will use the tech, what levels of experience they have and what you want them to achieve with it.

8:Fight the HiPPO. The ‘highest-paid person’s opinion’ will inevitably creep into the process to steer the project if you let it – but HiPPOs usually come from casual, not day-to-day, tech users. Keeping a user-centric ‘North Star focus’ will help you fight the HiPPO.

9: Look for case studies. The best people to help you choose tech are those already using it. Any respectable vendor should have a case study library to view. Don’t be afraid to ask for references and use third-party sites like Capterra to check reviews.

10: Consider the reporting. Once your new technology is live, you’ll want usable information about its impact to drive your future business decisions. Before you go live, work out exactly what you’ll want to track, and how. Keep reporting and learning long after the start date.