Marching through software vendor madness: 5 factors to consider

One of my favorite times of the year is upon us. That’s right – it’s March Madness!

I love this tournament for so many reasons. For one, it brings back nostalgic feelings of my college days at good old Kent State University (shoutout to the Golden Flashes for making it to the big dance!). I’m also super competitive, so the fact that I can compete against my family, friends, coworkers and more than 40 million other people who fill out brackets gives me quite the thrill.

As I sat on the couch watching Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology, preparing to beat my husband’s picks for what will be seven out of the last nine years, I felt a stronger emotional connection to many of the teams than in years past.

That’s because in my new role at Hyland, I have the pleasure of working with our higher education team to learn how our customers – some of the most elite colleges and universities in the nation – use technology to create exceptional student experiences on their campuses.

Therefore, I employed a new strategy this year. I chose teams like Notre Dame, University of Miami and Northwestern – simply because if they’ve selected OnBase or ShareBase as a strategic application on campus, they’re basically winners in my book already.

Picking a winner

The first step to picking a winning team – or a winning software solution – is doing a bit of research. How has the team performed in the past? Are any of the key players hurt? Have they recently changed coaches – or in the case of software companies, ownership?

Learn from the stories of those teams and companies that have been eliminated from the brackets over the years. Then observe the differences between the aforementioned and the teams that move on in the tournament year after year.

There are certain things that coaches like Arizona’s Lute Olson, Duke’s Mike “Coach K.” Krzyzewski and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo do to consistently lead their teams to the NCAA tournament. They don’t get to the winner’s circle so often by chance. These great leaders cite strength, loyalty, practice, dedication, determination and teamwork as key factors to success.

But the truth is, no matter how much research you do, the odds of filling out a perfect bracket are 9.2 quintillion to one. Yes. Quintillion, with a “q.”

However, while the tournament is not very predictable – anyone remember that 2011 VCU/Butler run to the Final Four? – selecting an enterprise information platform vendor can be much easier.

Here are five factors to consider as you make your pick:

1. Key metrics

In the NCAA world, team stability and chance of winning is often measured with two important statistics: the College Basketball Power Index (BPI) and Strength of Record (SOR).

In the world of software vendors, you should look at customer acquisition, financial stability and YOY growth.

2. A loyal fan base

Anyone who is a true sports fan – especially a true college sports fan – knows that one of the most critical parts of the game is “the sixth man” – a strong fan base.

When selecting a vendor, look for an organization with high customer and employee satisfaction. Chances are, if their current users are advocates, you will be too.

3. Dedicated support

Much like a basketball team needs the support of professionals like trainers and medical technicians, pick a team that has services and support professionals dedicated exclusively to higher education.

Choose a partner who wants you to succeed just as badly as you do. They’ll be your biggest cheerleaders along the way.

4. Investment in the team

A winning team requires an investment of time, resources and commitment from the players and staff – developing training regiments, investing in state-of-the-art facilities and providing top-notch tutors, just to name a few winning ways.

When choosing a software vendor, look for a team that puts revenue directly back into research and development of products. This ensures it is always performing to its fullest potential and is able to integrate with the most recent versions of systems you depend on. Whether you need enterprise content management, case management software or a business process management solution, look for a team that is always investing in the future.

5. Historic analyst ranking

Oftentimes, teams that have been to the big dance before do better than teams with less experience.

The same goes for software vendors. Once again, look for a team with experience.

I’ve picked my final four, now what?

Ok. So you’ve gotten through the first rounds. You’ve done your research. You’ve eliminated the teams who used to be big competitors, but have suffered some injuries or had a coaching change and may not be quite as strong going into the final stretch. Now what?

To pick a true winner, you need to look at the whole team, not just the individual players. Hopefully, you did that for your brackets.

But when you get to the final rounds of selecting a vendor, you need to know how your suite of technologies will play together. Which one will be the point guard, driving plays that connect the whole team and help execute the strategic plan that will lead to long-term success? Who will dominate the paint, grabbing rebounds and providing strong defense?

I’ve learned a lot from our customers over the past few months. One of those things is how our solutions help them to maximize and automate processes across all departments in their institutions so they can focus on student service. Because making it to the tournament is great, but making it to graduation is even more important.

So, where will you place your bets in this game of vendor madness? I can tell you one thing. If you select wisely, you’ll no longer have to gamble – you’ll just win.

Katie Tomicic joined Hyland in early 2012 as a member of the Office of the CTO. A mom of two, entrepreneur and undercover karaoke star, she disguises herself during traditional working hours as a content marketing specialist. She currently covers higher education for the Product and Solutions marketing team. Fun fact: Katie was in the 2002 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!
Katie Tomicic

Katie Tomicic

Katie Tomicic joined Hyland in early 2012 as a member of the Office of the CTO. A mom of two, entrepreneur and undercover karaoke star, she disguises herself during traditional... read more about: Katie Tomicic