The Right Way to Select Technology – a new book from the Real Story Group

by | Aug 8, 2017 | Digital workplace, Reviews

For over twenty years a significant element of my consulting practice has been helping organisations select new digital applications. Both The Content Management Handbook (2005) and Enterprise Search (2015) were positioned as guidebooks to support application procurement but in truth I did not give away all my secrets! Despite the time IT managers spend on selecting upgrades and new applications it surprises me that there are so few books on the subject. ‘Off-The-Shelf IT Solutions’ by Martin Tate (2015) is an excellent book but is written primarily for IT and procurement specialists. Selecting digital content technologies is especially challenging because they tend not to support enterprise workflows and business managers and people directly involved in the operation and management of the applications need to be closely integrated into the project team.

When working on procurement projects I inevitably made use of the excellent reports from the Real Story Group, recently enhanced through very effective interactive applications to help build vendor short lists. RSG consultants have considerable experience in guiding clients through the selection process and now Tony Byrne and Jarrod Gingras have written The Right Way to Select Technology, which is a masterpiece of information, knowledge and wisdom wrapped up in 174 pages of exceptionally-readable prose. In the introduction to  the book they list out seven groups of people who should read this book, and probably their most remarkable achievement is that the way the book is written each of the groups will feel it has been customised to their specific needs.

The main sections of the book are entitled Business Foundations, Needs and Opportunities, Conduct Market Analysis, Engage With Suppliers, Try Before You By, and Make the Right Choice. Throughout the book there are case studies (anonymized!), Cautions and at the end of each chapter a list of excellent Tips. I might argue that enterprise search procurement is a little more challenging but the principles remain the same. About the only tip I could add is to give vendors an indication about how much you expect them to write against each of the “Tell us about..” sections of an RFI or RFP. But in making that observation I am also saying that the book is so comprehensive and balanced that I have to get to that level of detail to find a gap for a suggestion. As well as the book text there are some excellent videos and other resources that readers can link to. Even these videos have clearly been carefully scripted but still come across as immediate and helpful. Showing them to the project team would be of great benefit even to those who know it all. (There is always one!)

The excellence of the content is matched by the excellence of the production from Rosenfeld Media. I’ve been in the book publishing business one way or another for most of my career so trust me when I say that books of this quality of production (font, layout, sectioning, style, index, additional resources and much more) take a huge amount of experience and diligence.

Even if you don’t immediately have a need for this book you will have some time soon. That’s the nature of the digital workplace. So you might just as well buy it now and become the instant expert on the project team. Frankly, if you have a major project then buying a copy for every member of the project team could do a great deal to ensure that you do not throw possibly a million dollars into a black hole. The problem with IT procurement is that you only find out about a year later that you have bought the wrong product from the wrong vendor. With this book as your guide that will never happen to you. Isn’t that worth $27?

Martin White