Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Legal Extranet Vendor Evaluation

Here are some tips on how to evaluate a legal extranet software vendor (Part 1).

Determine your requirements.

Discuss amongst your organization what you need a system to do before you contact vendors. Understand the top 5 (or 10 or 20) features you need in a system. Understand the top 5 (or 10 or 20 or 1) business objectives you are trying to achieve.

Generate a cost/benefit analysis for the project.

Don't spend $50,000 to save $100. Don't be afraid to spend $50,000 to save a quarter million dollars. Understand the budget and the business goals of a project. Try to determine a model to control costs and evaluating these savings during and after the project is implemented.

Conduct a market analysis of vendors.

First, have an analysis survey the marketplace and compile a vendor list. Interview vendors via phone or other methods to whittle the list down to a reasonable number. Seek additional information from the smaller list prior to conducting demos. Nothing is more taxing on a set of busy users than having to sit through ten or twenty vendor demos while evaluating systems.

Set up a matrix and method to mark and grade vendors before they demo to you.

This is important. It will ensure all vendors are evaluating equally. And, it will ensure what was important at the beginning of the project (business goals, features, etc..) are what will be evaluated during demos. You want to avoid getting into a demo and being so "wowed" by the look and feel or something else that you forget to evaluate the vendor on what is truly most important to your company.

More suggestions to follow in part two of this series.