Avoid costly mistakes - Choose the right IT

Advises latest book from BCS

23 March 2015

Off-the-shelf IT solutions: A practitioner’s guide to selection and procurementFor many business and public sector organisations, there are areas where an off-the-shelf solution is now the only realistic way to access enhanced software capabilities. However, despite the sophistication of modern off-the-shelf software, some organisations find they don't get the benefits they expected.

Off-The-Shelf IT Solutions: A practitioner’s guide to selection and procurement looks at how a smart software selection can be a key enabler for business. Enterprise software technology cannot make a company great, but a well implemented and supported selection will allow companies to concentrate on their core business and become great.

In this latest book, published by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, author Martin Tate explains “it presents a proven decision-making process to help IT and business managers select the off-the-shelf software that best fits the needs of their organisation, whether in the commercial or public sector.”

Offering a structured approach to managing stakeholders, requirements and candidate IT vendors, this practical 'how-to' guide will help IT and business managers deliver a rigorous, defensible decision within an aggressive timescale.

Martin continues: “The strategic decision as to which commercial off-the-shelf solution to select is crucial, as it will determine how well the business can function, communicate, make decisions and grow for the life of the software.”

As off-the-shelf software is often the only feasible route, but the wrong solution will damage your strategy, the author offers the following guidance for IT and business managers:

  • Do not compare solutions to each other. This will break down under complexity. Compare all candidates to the same yardstick - your requirements. These must form the basis of decision.
  • Stakeholder engagement is crucial - IT systems don't deliver benefits; people do. Consult widely both to agree requirements and to engage staff in all stages of the evaluation and selection.
  • Use progressive shortlisting to avoid over-investment by you and prohibitive cost of sale for the candidates. Only find out enough to get through each selection gate.
  • The suppliers have information you need to make a sound decision, which means a collaborative approach is essential.

As well as illustrating the techniques, this book includes experiences of business managers who have been through the process. Formats and templates are available by download from the supporting webpage, www.bcs.org/offtheshelfextras

Mike Berners-Lee, Founder, Small World Consulting Ltd says: “Martin is the guru of robust decision making. The process he describes in this book combines intuition with rigorous, transparent logic. Good choices are easy to explain, sell and defend whilst spurious bias is left with nowhere to hide.”

Professor David Brown, Lancaster University Management School adds: “I've long experience of how newcomers react to the selection method in this book - they like it a lot. I'm very confident that readers will quickly appreciate the benefits and how to apply it to their projects.”

About the author
Martin Tate is founder and principal consultant at Decision Evaluation Ltd, an IT consultancy that has specialised in selecting off-the-shelf solutions for over twenty years. A ‘poacher turned gamekeeper’, he formerly worked for an IT provider and was trained to sell software. BCS awarded him Chartered Fellow status for eminence in IT selection.

About the book
ISBN 978-1-78017-258-3
Publication date: March 2015
£29.99 / €38.99 / $46.99

The book is available from the BCS Bookshop: www.bcs.org/books/offtheshelf

Contact the Press Office