Occasionally we get requests from our prospective customers to provide them a comparison of our solution with MS Exchange or Lotus Notes or Google Apps
to help them take a buying decision.
Creating a detailed feature comparison usually means listing hundreds of features and their availability status in different solutions resulting in a comparison statement that runs over several pages. But does this comparison really help customers take a decision?
We feel that rather than helping customers arrive at a decision, it is instead burdening them with more information that makes making a choice more difficult. Because no matter which way we make a comparison, each solution turns out to have its own strengths and limitations. From our experience of attempting to create feature comparisons with many other solutions besides Exchange and Lotus Notes, we’ve found that each solution brings a lot of value to the table in their own way e.g. some solutions are very strong on the back end performance, security etc while another solution might be very strong with end user capabilities, while yet another could provide add on capabilities to augment another solution etc.
So how do organisations decide?
Do they do it by popularity and support available for the solution?
Do they do it based on the skill sets their teams already have (to reduce learning time)?
Do they do it based on cost of the solution?
Do they do it based on the closest fit to their requirement?
Do they do it based on the users demands for a certain functionality?
We feel its not about choosing between solutions (by comparing) but choosing a combination of solutions that can work together to deliver on the organisation’s need. Since most solutions would fail to meet all the requirements entirely by themselves.
So the organisations could go about making a choice as follows
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- Define clear objectives for choosing a solution – Cost, Scalability, Security, Special Features, Continuity etc.
- Define groups of user and their specific needs (all users are not equal)
- Identify the different tools/solutions that can serve the different needs of the users
- Choose the work horse (the solutions which can cover the feature needs of 80% of the user base) while delivering on the core objectives of cost, security etc.
- Identify the tools that can bridge the gap for the rest of the users and capabilities
- Create a hybrid solution that combines the capabilities of these solutions, helping you meet most of your requirements.
- Deploy all the solutions together in a pilot setup and run through all your requirements and test cases to be completely satisfied before you buy.
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