Thursday, May 20, 2010

Product Evaluations...

I consider product competition as a good thing. It keeps everyone working to be the best in breed, deliver the best and most cost effective solution to the customer, and drives the value proposition.

In fact, in product evaluations I like to pit vendors products against each other so that my end customer gets the best solution and the most cost effective. For example, I use capabilities that may not have been in the original requirements to further the customer capability refinement. If they run across something that makes their life better, why not leverage that in my product evaluations? In the end, I get a much more effective solution and my customer gets the best product for them.

When faced with using internal resources to develop a capability and using an outside, best of breed solution, danger exists in that if you grade on a curve for internally developed product, you take away competition and ultimately the competitive leadership associated with a Best of Breed product implementation.

It is too easy to start to minimize requirements to the bare necessities and to further segregate these requirements into phases. When you do, you lose the benefit of competition and you lose the edge you get when you tell the vendors to bring the best they have.

Its akin to looking at the problem space and asking what is th bare minimum needed to do this. Or asking what is the best solution for this problem set? Two completely different approaches.

If you evaluate on bare minimums, you get bare minimums. You will always be behind the technology curve in that you will never consider new approaches, capabilities, or technology in your evaluation. And your customer is always left wanting.

It becomes even more dangerous when you evaluate internally developed product versus COTS in that, if you apply the minimum curve gradient to only the internally developed product, the end customer only gets bare minimum capabilities within the development window. No new capabilities. No new technology. No new functionality.

It is not a fair and balanced evaluation anyway if you only apply bare minimums to evaluations. I want the BEST solution for my customer. Bare minimums are not the BEST for my customer. They are best for the development team because now, they don't have to be the best. They can slow down innovation through development processes. And the customer suffers.

If you're using developer in house, it is an ABSOLUTE WASTE of company resources and money to develop commodity software that does not provide clear business discriminators. Free is not a business discriminator in that FREE doesn't deliver any new capabilities - capabilities that commodity software doesn't already have.

Inherently, there are two mindsets that evolve. You take away or you empower the customer. A Gatekeeper or a Provider.

If you do bare minimums, you take away capabilities that the customer wants but because it may not be a bare minimum, the capability is taken away.

If you evaluate on Best of Breed, you ultimately bring capabilities to them.

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