Selling MDM to Leadership: Evaluation Pitfalls

According to Gartner, the #1 reason for MDM failure is the lack of a business case to qualify and quantify data management value creation. 

In this fifth session, learn more about how to evaluate the MDM technology vendors you are considering using to implement your new program with the ‘three amigos’ Bill O’Kane – Profisee VP & MDM Strategist, Harbert Bernard – Profisee Director of Value Management and Christopher Dwight – Profisee VP of Customer Success.


Listen to the Podcast!

Looking for the Slides?

Here’s part 1 on organizational readiness, part 2 on understanding your why, part 3 on TCO calculation, and part 4 on program scope if you missed the prior sessions.


Evaluation Pitfalls – Know What to Look For; Don’t Get Tripped Up!

In this session, we discuss our experiences around evaluating vendors.  Martin Boyd, VP Product Marketing at Profisee, and as moderator for this session, shares a favorite quote of his from Lewis Carroll:  “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” It’s so true that MDM and MDM technology can do SO many things that it is easy to create a simple checklist, really more like for procurement tasks than anything, and check off that the vendor ticks all the boxes.

Buy a Platform that Supports YOUR Program

You are buying an MDM platform to support an MDM program.  You want to remain focused on what you want to achieve within that program now and down the line, as you write, weight, and score the different types of evaluation questions you ask more than being focused on ticking off boxes of product capabilities.

Let your selection for an MDM vendor be driven by your desired business outcomes not the capabilities of the platform.  And remember it is a platform, that can support many different solutions and allow you to be as creative as you want, but it isn’t an off the shelf application you are just plugging in.

And therefore, evaluating this type of solution means you and the vendor need to be putting in some time & money – it truly is an investment in making sure you are selecting the best MDM platform for your particular program needs.

What About an RFP?

Another area during evaluations we see is using an RFP to collect responses from vendors.  In our experience, an RFP process can be very fruitful is there is an opportunity to connect directly with the company purchasing to better understand the details of their specific use cases.  You should want to and certainly, as a vendor, we want to have that conversation and chance to truly understand the potential use cases you have to figure out if our solution is the right one for you.

Protip: One caution to look out for is often vendors will have a ‘toolkit’ so to speak where you can do a specific custom development – we certainly have one at Profisee.  But most platforms should now allow you to be able to customize components to how you handle data at your company vs needing to completely code from scratch.  This is where a deeper understanding of your uses cases makes a difference and if 5 out of 6 of your uses cases require all custom work than perhaps that vendor is not the best fit for you.

See Your Data in Action Before You Buy

Another important item that Christopher touches on is being sure to get an opportunity to see the solution in action with your own data.  Bill mentions it too that it really is so important to the success of the MDM program you are building, and that the stakeholders feel bought in and attached to the potential outcome.  You want to paint the picture, with their own data, of what an outcome can look like – show them the ‘after’, really bring it personally home to those evaluating internally – is this the right platform for current AND future use cases.  We always encourage providing data to use in vendor evaluations.

Cloud Considerations

The team next spends some time on the discussion around the question of “do you offer a cloud solution?”  We encourage all companies to really spend some time understand the potential vendors and their solutions.  When it comes to MDM technology, there are several ways the platform can be deployed from on-premise, to fully supported ‘in the cloud’ to some hybrid that works in your company.  Again, we come back to the same question of what are the business outcomes you are striving to achieve?  Then when you know that and where the current data resides, you can make a better determination to understand if you want IaaS (infrastructure as a service) or PaaS (platform as a service).  One pitfall that happens sometimes is based on the way a vendor has grown over time (whether organically or by acquisition) and can trip you up because they steer you towards one particular deployment style because it is easier for them to ‘hide’ some of the challenges of their platform and the technical issues you face.

The net of it from Christopher and Bill is to be sure you truly understand what you are trying to achieve, what your current infrastructure looks like, and then doing the analysis with honest guidance from the vendor on the best way to implement your MDM program.   You want to understand what upgrades and patches look like when comparing vendors.  What additional tools and technologies and/or skill sets do you need to have as you look to deploy an MDM platform.  Lots of big and important questions to ask and carefully consider during your evaluation.

Licensing Model Considerations

Another area to consider carefully as you evaluate vendors is to get a good understanding of the vendor’s licensing model.  This also gives you clues into the nature of the product – when vendors have grown by acquisition – you can see some of the complexity that may occur during installation, by the way they need to license the software you buy.

Protip: Another good check during a vendor evaluation is to ask for the installation guide for the solution you are buying.  7 guides and 200 pages of content later might give you a clue that implementation could prove challenging if that is what you need to go through to simply install the software 😉.

Of course, most vendors have a pricing model that CAN scale with your needs, but it is the other ensuing costs that need to be taken into consideration as well.  How much additional hardware is needed, what is the upgrade process or the process for acquiring additional licenses – it is as simple as updating a license key, or is there more involved?  “What if I want to start on-premise and move to the cloud, how is pricing affected or not?  What if I want to start off with a subscription model and move to a perpetual license or vice versa?”  You really want to be asking these kinds of questions, so that you can understand your options and get all the data you need as you build your business case including the value statements.

Implementation Costs and Considerations

Whether you work with the vendor’s Professional Services team or use a System Integrator that is partnered with the vendor, you will want to be sure to understand these costs associated with your project.  We always recommend the more detail the better in terms of figuring out your first project and then understanding the specific outcome you are looking for and designing that first project to be on time and on budget.  You want to be sure to hold the vendors and SIs to this same requirement so that you have an accurate and complete picture of what it takes to deliver a successful first MDM project in your program.

Program Success: Don’t Forget the Business Value Case

And like we talked about in the last session, you need to make sure to clearly document the total cost of ownership.  Not just the initial purchase, but the ongoing costs associated with annual maintenance, using multiple domains and/or add-on modules for any customization or integration that you need to do with your MDM program.

All of these components need to be documented and included as part of your vendor/technology evaluations and carefully considered in your business case.

In summary, we learned:

There are many things that can trip you up as you consider the technology vendor you wish to partner with for your MDM project.  It is important to be aware of these key points and take steps to mitigate them as you build your business case and evaluate the vendors you want on your project.

In the next session, we will wrap up the series by focusing on what happens after your first project goes live.  Those important additional uses cases you identified during your project evaluation are ready to be rolled out and we will share some best practices for your continued success.  Until then!

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