By
1st May 2015

With the overwhelming variety of software packages available these days and the differing needs you have to consider for each department at your institution, putting a tender together to purchase software could seem like a daunting prospect.

Our Senior Contracts & Procurement Officer, Yvonne Winskill, has put together a useful checklist for you to refer to. Keep it bookmarked for when you have to navigate this type of purchase and use it to ensure you’ve taken everything into consideration. With the recent news that certain Microsoft packages will no longer be useable after July this year, or that Windows XP is no longer supported, now is the perfect time to take a look at your institution’s software set up.

1. Think about engagement with your stakeholders and what software requirements they need and why.

What’s in place already? What are the advantages and disadvantages of your current systems? What is important to one department may not be important to another and vice versa. For example,

  • Reporting information
  • Auditing information
  • Forecasting
  • A requirement to work remotely either via tablets or smart phones
  • Interactive
  • User friendly
2. Once you’ve engaged with your internal stakeholders, talk to suppliers

Look at what’s in the market place and discuss the various advantages and disadvantages of each product that suppliers offer to you.

  • How innovative is the product being suggested, how often are the updates – will it still meet your requirements in five years’ time?
  • • What reports is it able to produce?
  • Is it user friendly?
  • Is it fully auditable?
  • Does it have interactive features?
  • How accurate is the information provided by the reports?
  • Do you need individual licences or does one cover the whole institution?
  • Is it compatible with other network and software infrastructure? Do you need it to interlink in anyway?
3. What data is involved and how does it need to be stored and organised?

Consider how the data on the software will be stored and processed - do you need extra memory and storage within you servers for the software to be run? Can it be hosted on a cloud? Does the provider have the appropriate certification to ensure safe keeping of your data?

You’ll need answers to these sorts of questions in order to make sure your tender specification is accurate and when it comes to choosing between similar bundle offerings.

4. What resources will be needed?

Will you be looking after the software yourself and will the software provider be able to give you the support and appropriate level of training needed to your users? Will this support and training be ongoing especially if updates are needed to the software that may prompt changes or do you require the service provider to manage and host the software on your behalf? Getting cutting edge software for your college is going to be rendered pointless if there’s no one trained or qualified to use it, so this is always something you need to take into consideration.

5. Don't be too restrictive

At the end of this exercise, you’ve done your market research spoken and engaged with stakeholders and suppliers. You have a specific product in mind that you think will meet your requirements. There is one last thing to consider, however - that is to make sure that your specification isn’t too restrictive. By putting a more restricted specification you risk losing out on solutions that will not only meet your needs both short and long term, but will cost less not only in terms of the actual solution, implementation and support costs but be more efficient too. Despite all the research you will be undertaking before you write up your specification, there’s always going to be software solutions that you might not have been made aware of, but that will be a great fit for your institution’s needs, so leave some room for the unforeseen.

Finally, remember that if you ever get stuck, you can always contact CPC for some advice – even if it’s just to confirm that you’re doing the right thing. Don’t ever hesitate to ask us something, that’s what we’re here for.

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