Last month I discussed steps to narrow the vast field of technology that is available to you and your clients. Now that you have a shortlist, you want to find out the one option that will be the ideal solution for you. You can determine this in five steps.
Step 1: Identify your evaluation criteria.
You need to know what you're looking for—the system characteristics that are most important to you and your team. So your first step should be to choose three to five criteria that you'll use to evaluate the available technology. Common choices you can think about include:
- Product training
- Workflow fit
- Customer service
- Switching cost
Step 2: Assign a weighting.
For each of your 3-5 most important app characteristics, you should assign a weighting based on your order of preference. You have 100 points in total to spend across your criteria. Allocate points to each based on what you view to be the most important so that the total adds up to 100. Ideally, you don’t want to have evenly weighted criteria. An example of 4 weighted criteria might be 50, 30, 10 and 10 points respectively. This step will enable you to develop an equation for your qualitative analysis, which removes the risk of your outcome being influenced by any bias you have.
Step 3: Rate your options.
With your criteria decided and ranked, and your vendors shortlisted, you now need to score each of them on each evaluation criteria, using a Harvey-Balls style analysis. With this method, each app is given a score between 1 (poor fit) to 5 (excellent fit) for each criterion. For instance, if you're looking at price, the cheapest option can be given 5 for that category, and the most expensive a 1. Or if you're rating ease-of-use, you can look at customer reviews and give what looks like the most intuitive a 5 and the most difficult a 1.
To assign a score for each criterion, rate the app you're looking at against the others you have shortlisted. Force yourself to have different scores for each vendor in the same criterion. This will help you determine a clear winner.
Step 4: Calculate your final scores.
With a matrix of vendor scores, you have a simple way to calculate a weighted comparable score across vendors. To demonstrate, if you chose three criteria (A, B, C), weighted them (Wa, Wb, Wc), and scored them across two vendors (Sa1, Sb1, Sc1 vs. Sa2. Sb2, Sc2 respectively), your comparable scores would be:
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- Score (Vendor #1) = Wa * Sa1 + Wb * Sb1 + Wc * Sc1
- Score (Vendor #2) = Wa * Sa2 + Wb * Sb2 + Wc * Sc2
Scores will range from 0 to 500 (or 0 to 5 if weighting is set as a percentage). The vendor with the largest score is your winner.
You can download this technology prioritisation template to help you with this step.
Signup and conduct a time-boxed free trial using your firm’s data.
When you have identified your winner you need to try it out it to determine first-hand whether it is right for your firm. Contact the vendor to register for a free trial, watch a product demo, upload your practice's data, and try it out for one or two weeks. Does the app solve your problem? Does it live up to your expectations? Was your preliminary evaluation correct? If yes, then you've done your job! If not, look at the second place winner and repeat. Often, if two options are close in scores, you should try to test them both.
In the final article in this series, I'll share tips and tricks you can use to stay on top of the evolving ecosystem. You'll learn to stay ahead of the curve and adopt the right technology at the right time to build and maintain a competitive advantage.