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Selecting the Right Software with BARC Scores

The software market for performance management and analytics offers an extensive number of products - and the trend is still rising. The search for a new and, above all, requirements-oriented software tool is therefore not trivial.

The software market for performance management and analytics offers an ever-increasing number of solutions. The search for a new and, above all, requirements-oriented software tool is therefore no walk in the park. Many well-known vendors with strong sales and marketing strategies are in competition with lesser-known, regional vendors who nevertheless also offer mature and functionally broad solutions. So which is the right one for your individual needs?

As a starting point for a structured software selection process, we recommend our BARC Scores. BARC Scores support you in your software selection project by condensing detailed analyst knowledge and well-founded survey results into a unique graph. BARC Scores aim to provide a clear, concise overview of a specific software market.

In the two previous posts in this blog series, we previewed our Integrated Planning & Analytics (IP&A) and Financial Performance Management (FPM) BARC Scores for this year. Now, in this blog, you’ll learn how you can use BARC Scores to drive your own software selection process.

The essential basis of any software selection: Know your requirements

A crucial point that you should always keep in mind when evaluating software solutions: All vendors have their individual strengths, but also weaknesses. There is no “one-size-fits-all”. For this reason, software selection processes must always be requirements-driven in order to find the most suitable solution for one’s own needs.

This insight is also important for the correct interpretation of our BARC Score graphs. The idea that vendors who appear higher up or further to the right are generally better than vendors further down or on the left is incorrect. Rather, it is the case that vendors further to the right offer a broad and very well-integrated portfolio. Vendors further up convince with a comprehensive market presence and a solid strategic direction.

When making your decision, keep in mind that larger is not necessarily better. Supposedly “large” vendors are not necessarily superior to their “smaller” competitors in all aspects. The sheer size or reputation of a vendor should not be the sole decision-making criterion, however understandable concerns about issues such as investment security may be. The decisive factor is the overall package of functional support and a solid technical basis at a reasonable price-performance ratio.

One success factor for software selection is orientation to individual requirements. A detailed and weighted requirements catalog forms the starting point for this. Conduct a thorough functional, technical and organizational requirements analysis that includes all key future users of the tool. This ensures acceptance of the solution right from the start and should include the business departments as well as IT. As soon as all requirements have been finalized and weighted, the evaluation of potential solutions can begin.

The first evaluation step: The longlist

The goal of the BARC Score evaluation methodology is to provide an overview of software markets and to rank the portfolios of individual vendors and their positioning in the market. BARC Scores can therefore serve as a longlist in software selection projects (and thus as an initial market delimitation). Be aware, however, that there are far more vendors and beneficial solutions on the market than we can evaluate in our BARC Scores.

For your own software selection project, it is important to check whether the market segment examined in a BARC Score also fits your requirements. For example, BARC Score Integrated Planning & Analytics and BARC Score Financial Performance Management should not be confused, as they assess different markets and topics. While the first BARC Score is dedicated more to classic tasks in controlling, the second focuses on common tasks in accounting.

Narrowing the market down to a shortlist

Once you have identified your longlist and the right market segment, you can start eliminating vendors from that list based on your individual knockout criteria. The BARC Score product descriptions including strengths and weaknesses of the solutions are ideally suited for this purpose. Detailed insights into the solutions and feedback from analysts and customers are a reliable source of knowledge. Identify the solutions that best meet your knockout criteria based on the breadth of the evaluation criteria in the BARC Score document. Through this elimination process, your shortlist emerges: a set of a few appropriate tools for your organization to consider.

The final step in the software selection process is a detailed evaluation of the solutions on the shortlist. In this process, the solutions are thoroughly tested with regard to all requirements, including a cost analysis. This creates investment security and minimizes the risk of making the wrong decision.

The aim of the detailed evaluation is to obtain as detailed a picture as possible of the performance of the software solutions. Test installations, structured vendor presentations and proofs of concept are suitable for this purpose. Ideally, the detailed evaluation should be based on tasks and data that correspond as realistically as possible to the future area of application in your company.

The structured procedure described creates investment security so that you are well equipped to make a well-founded and future-proof decision.

Need additional help?

If you would like to see Integrated Planning & Analytics (IP&A) and Financial Performance Management (FPM) software tools live in action, attend our free annual Digital Finance & Controlling online event on April 27-28th, 2022 (German-speaking).

For further assistance in your selection process, don’t hesitate to contact BARC’s experts.

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Senior Analyst Data & Analytics

Dr. Christian Fuchs is a Senior Analyst and Head of Data & Analytics Research at BARC. He is the author of numerous BARC studies as well as a sought-after speaker at conferences. His areas of expertise are decision support information systems in corporate performance management (CPM), planning, consolidation and analytics front ends.

As a consultant, he supports companies in the software selection process and in the implementation phase as well as with strategic questions regarding tool portfolios, architecture and usage scenarios.

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