If you are planning on attending a trade show or one of the many conferences featuring new technology, you will likely be overwhelmed with the multitude of options to address specific business requirements.  These could include everything from document management and retrieval to assist in everyday activities to cyber security systems to protect your data and customers.  The big question – How do you find the right technology for YOU?

Here are a few steps you can follow to make sure you find the best solution to meet your needs and get the most out of your technology dollar:

1. Define your requirements – You have already identified a need, now work with your team to define and prioritize the requirements. Make sure to distinguish between those items that it would be cool to have from those that you must have for the system to address your business needs. This document will also allow for clear communications between your team and the potential suppliers. While you are going through this process take the time to also identify internal processes that may need to be changed, to leverage this new technology.

2. Search for a solution – The internet along with trade shows and general networking are great tools to gather initial information for potential solutions. It is also a good way to eliminate those that don’t meet the basic requirements. You can also conduct an informal Request for Information (RFI) to gather additional information before heading into a formal Request for Proposal (RFP). While the RFP process may seem a bit daunting, it is a great way to have the suppliers tell you how they align to your specific requirements as well as what they have in development.

3. Select a Supplier – Be diligent and do your homework. Suffer through demonstrations and make sure to invite the end users for their feedback. After all, they will be the ones using the selected solution. Also, don’t forget to check references. Remember, while price is always an important component in the selection process, the ability to meet your requirements and support your organization is equally as important.

4. Finalize the deal – This is the negotiation phase, and not just on cost. Include performance criteria as well as any commitments for delivery of future enhancements and pilot success criteria. Don’t forget to get the legal group involved in contract review.

In summary, there are many options to meet each and every technology need that you may have, and the options are constantly changing. These investments tend to be significant to the organization, and if made correctly, will have a positive impact to the overall business. SO – Don’t shortcut the process in the interest of time. This is time well spent for the entire team to ensure the best solution is selected to meet your business needs.