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1. Basic Principals
2. Change Control
3. Server Environments
4. Network and Wiring
5. Network Security
6. Software Purchases
7. Documenting IT

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Information Technology Digest:
Stable Computer Environments
by Wolfgang Blauen, CISSP
6. Software Purchases (continued)

Usually, you end up with two things:

1.       A list of requirements. 

2.       A set of examples for how the processes are expected to be supported by the software. 

Now that you know what the issue is and how you would like to solve it, you go out and obtain information on the available products in the market and match their capabilities to your desired solution. You will end up with a short list of say 3-5 products that solve your issue to various degrees of satisfaction, which you can use as initial grading criteria.

The next step is to look at the financial feasibility of each solution for your company. This is where additional considerations come in that vendors don’t necessarily alert you to. In particular, you want to know:

  • What hidden cost is associated with the solution? Do you need new hardware and expensive operating systems to deploy the solution? Do you need to purchase other third party products, like Database servers, that are not included in the software’s purchase price?

  • Does the vendor support the entire solution or just part of it? For example, some vendors may not provide database support.

  • How well does the solution fit into your current IT environment? Do you need to implement new technologies that the vendor does not support and your staff does not have the expertise to maintain?

  • How well does or can the solution be integrated with your current solutions?

  • Is there significant overlap between the new solution and one or more of your existing ones (i.e. forcing you to re-invest)?

The end result is a matrix of decision criteria that helps you make a qualified choice based on objective views and comparisons between the products.

You may prefer one vendor over another based on previous experiences, you may like the look and feel of a specific product better than that of another, you may even like the sales person of one vendor or their expertise better than the others.  These preferences should, however, take a backseat to the previous list of criteria. Making software decisions is all about balancing the “must haves” with the “cool” features and the business need with the personal preferences. Many companies implement solutions based on the principal that “if lots of companies have it, it can’t be wrong”. As a result, they have invested so much into solutions that don’t really work for them that they are unable to evolve their environments.

The best solution is not the one that has the best marketing budget but the one that fits your business needs the best.

  For those interested, here is a reference to how the big guys do it:

Or more specifically:

(read on ...) 

Copyright (c) 2008 by In Scope-Solutions, Inc. 

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