Founder and CEO at Ludi, Inc., a healthcare technology company making it easy for hospitals to pay physicians.
There’s a lot of talk about implementing technology, but finding and choosing the right technology solution for your business can be an equally laborious process. In 2004, psychologist Barry Schwartz published his book, The Paradox of Choice. The book makes the (now-famous) argument that although consumer choices are seen as a sort of freedom, they actually produce anxiety and sometimes paralysis for decision makers. Sound familiar?
On the flip side, you may be wondering if a solution even exists for your particular technology challenge. My frustration with not being able to find the right products when I was the vice president of business development for a Chicago-based hospital system led me to start my healthcare technology company, Ludi, Inc. Before doing so, I had plenty of experience searching for the right technology solutions for our facilities.
How do you find the right solution and avoid decision paralysis?
1. Do your research.
Researching technology should go way beyond a Google search. Here are three ways to start researching solutions.
1. Speak with your colleagues and ask them if they liked the solutions they used at previous jobs.
2. Leverage your trade associations and ask for recommendations in an online forum or listserv. Likewise, you can put a general callout to your network on LinkedIn.
3. Download some white papers. Sure, you will have to exchange your email address for the download, but white papers can be genuinely useful. Most technology providers want well-informed customers, and white papers are a way to educate prospects.
2. Build a decision-making team.
You don’t have to make this decision alone. You will probably want to weigh the financial commitment while building your team. If this isn’t a large commitment, maybe you just draw in one or two other colleagues to help you assess the options. You know your organization’s structure and culture best, so be sure to bring the right people and stakeholders to the table and know who has to sign off before you commit.
3. Compose a killer RFI or RFP.
Both a request for information (RFI) and a request for proposal (RFP) are useful tools in choosing technology. Your organization may even have a standard procedure for this part of the process. One of my favorite low-cost tips is to log every detailed question from your RFI/RFP in the rows of a spreadsheet. Set up columns for each vendor that responds and use them to track product features, pricing and everything in between. You can also use this spreadsheet to gather feedback from your decision-making team and weigh all the gathered data in one place.
Even if your technology solution doesn’t quite warrant a spreadsheet, here are some crucial questions you should be asking any technology vendor.
• Is the product well-supported?
• Has the vendor successfully implemented across a national system (or a system similar to your own)?
• Does the vendor have a history of innovation to adapt to constant changes in the industry?
• Does the vendor have account managers who are knowledgeable about the products and processes of the system to ensure maximum long-term value?
• Does the vendor have a track record of retaining clients? Are they willing to share client references with you?
• Does the vendor provide detailed training both at implementation and on an ongoing basis for turnover situations?
• Does the product integrate with the technologies you currently use?
• Is the product customizable to your unique needs?
• Does the vendor have dedicated analytics professionals who can deliver insights and build custom reports for clients?
4. Make the best choice.
Once you’ve researched vendors, built a team, sent out RFIs and weighed all the information that has come in, it is time to make a decision. It’s human to want to make the “right” choice. Remember that technology is a fast-paced field,d and no solution will be completely right or completely wrong. The gray area is what makes these decisions the hardest. Use the data you’ve collected to make the best choice for your business at this time. You can always update that choice later if a new product becomes available or an aspect of your business changes.
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