In this article, Leah Sweeney highlights how Microsoft’s Catalyst Framework can assist you in software evaluation.
As more businesses embark on or advance in their digital transformation journey, we see an increase in available software solutions. Today, there are more products than ever to choose from, and as a principal decider in your company, you might not know where to start. Before committing to any software, you should take the time to evaluate and adequately scope all facets of the proposed product. Below are some of the main reasons why evaluation is necessary for any software implementation.
As you can see, completing your due diligence upfront to properly evaluate software is critical. However, you might still ask, what does the evaluation process look like? How do I know I am covering all the components? Luckily, Microsoft has designed an innovative framework to help walk businesses through each step of the evaluation process. With the help of a trained Microsoft Partner, you can embark on the journey through the Microsoft Catalyst Framework and have confidence you are selecting the right software solution.
The Microsoft Catalyst Framework is a unique and creative approach to the methodology of evaluating software. With so many areas to consider, whether it be the product side, business/client-side, or partner/implementor side, there must be an end-to-end approach that addresses all contributing factors. Microsoft’s solution to this was Catalyst – a framework that assists in the evaluation and selection process of their products.
The Catalyst methodology is built on the foundation of the “I.D.E.A.” framework. I.D.E.A. stands for: Inspire, Design, Empower, Achieve. Throughout your Catalyst journey, a Microsoft Partner will take you through all phases of the I.D.E.A. framework, each of which has a unique focus and scope. You will also engage in a variety of workshops and partner-led sessions that assist in requirements gathering, goal setting, and implementation process mapping.
The envisioning workshop, which takes place in the Inspire phase, is designed to help potential clients outline their current state. You will be asked to identify current challenges, product or process gaps, and areas for improvement. Once these are identified, you can begin to “envision” what a future state looks like if these problems, gaps, and limitations could be met with solutions. You will be encouraged to think strategically and outside the current process and mindset. By doing this, you can envision how innovation and digital transformation can truly impact your business and start to plan for that future state.
Benefits of the Envisioning Workshop:
The Business Value Assessment, or BVA, is another important exercise, as it helps further outline the project scope and quantifying/qualifying it with a lens of value recognition. Understanding and recognizing the value you are getting from software can help you make those important business decisions. If the perceived value of the product is unknown or unclear, you will have a difficult time deciding on whether to select the product or not. It will also be challenging to get people on board and gain stakeholder and user adoption. If the perceived value is minimal or even non-existent, the decision is quite clear and can save you precious time. However, if you can truly qualify and quantify the value and present it in a way that all stakeholders can understand and appreciate, your decision becomes much easier.
Benefits of the Business Value Assessment:
As you can see, during the Inspire and Design phase, there is a strong focus on identifying and outlining customer needs while helping them envision a future state. During the BVA process, you will also begin to associate the perceived value of the potential solutions as they are incorporated into your business.
This brings us to the last two phases of the I.D.E.A. framework. During the last two phases, you will be thoroughly guided through solutions assessments and demos to demonstrate precisely how the specific product software meets your needs and provides value to your organization. These demos follow closely on the customer journey that has already been developed in the first two phases. It is a continuation of the story versus a standard product demo. Microsoft has developed the Catalyst Framework to be very customer-centric versus product-centric. For the product assessment/demo phase, this translates into injecting various product solutions into the story and highlighting how the software can help the customer achieve their ideal/envisioned state.
The final stage of the Catalyst framework will bring everything together and help determine if Microsoft and the selected partner can take part in the next steps of the customer journey. Making the final decision can be challenging and stressful. Luckily, by this time, each customer on the Catalyst journey will have amassed a large collection of information and resources. With this information and final guidance in the Achieve stage, the hope is that each customer feels empowered and equipped with everything to make a well-informed decision.
In today’s world, it is more important than ever to make informed decisions based on data and reasoning. Microsoft has created the Catalyst Framework as a tool for partners to use in the selection and evaluation process to ensure clients are getting exactly what they need. Not only is it important to make informed decisions, but to feel good about those decisions and be supported throughout the process. The Catalyst Framework helps build a strong foundation for your software project while supporting and encouraging a meaningful relationship with your partner.
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