Listen to the Right Voices

Salesman of all stripes will understate the risk of a project, especially transitioning to their product. Balance the salesperson’s pitch with criticism from other sources, and be sure to search out real critics before you buy the hype or the product.

Silence can be golden. When the software support team reports few tickets and fewer change requests, this is not an indictment of the tool. Appreciate that your customers like what they have and use it without incident. Don’t assume that a mature application is begging for an update. Don’t take silence as an indictment of your support team, or give in to the “do something” disease. If the software is humming along nicely, let them join in software testing for other groups or catch up on training instead of jumping to the conclusion that they need to revamp the tool.
Seth Klarman says that the stock market is a tug of war between greed and fear. When it comes to pushing the envelope, customers need a proper dose of fear when they encounter a contractor or supplier’s greed. When someone says, “Sure, we can do that, though we’ve never really done it before,” warning klaxons should roar. You should never volunteer to become a guinea pig to a software firm paid to develop a new application, with your company’s IT functionality on the line if they make mistakes. If no one on the market currently has a software interface or tool that does what you need, you’ll receive eager bids to do the work, but it is your responsibility to counterbalance it with a healthy dose of skepticism to manage the risk. Don’t forget to listen to those who voice fears so that you can properly manage the risks.

Have your IT gurus participate in beta testing of the next generation of a software application, long before you consider purchasing or installing it. Consider it an investment in both in house expertise and improving the vendor’s product without paying for patches or bug fixes. And listen to their opinions of the software. Don’t just go out and buy software or start re-planning your IT infrastructure due to a team or manager wowed by a demo.