Tech Select Series: Piloting Your Solution

Welcome to the latest entry in RSG's "Real Story Vendor Procurement" (RSVP) best practice series. Last time we showed how to conduct a competitive bake-off. In this step I'm going to talk about what happens after you pick the right platform: piloting your solution.

The Pilot is a Real Implementation

The first and most important thing to remember about a pilot is that it's a real implementation, something that you'll go live with. The goal is to learn key lessons in a more controlled environment, lessons about your team and your requirements, as well as lessons about the solution and how well it works.

We're not talking about the whole solution, just a pilot. In other words, it could be part of a website, a selection of assets, a specific document process, maybe a customer journey within a Journey Orchestration Engine platform. The point is, it's a real live working system.

So you want to plan it like a real implementation. That means you need development and QA plans, communication plans, an education plan that's going to explain what, why, and where, training plans that are going to explain how and when, potentially a migration plan, and of course a support plan. Program management becomes very important here.

Pilot Your Solution

How to Pick

Here's a common question we get.  How big should this pilot be?

There's really no simple answer. Clearly you don't want it to be too big, but not too small either. If it's too small, you don't skin your knees or learn the right lessons. If it's too big, you run the risk of biting off more than you can chew and making overly consequential decisions while the system is still new to you.

Other factors can come into play here as you choose a pilot. It could be the readiness of certain colleagues or departments, urgency to solve a particular problem, maybe levels of internal resources.

It's a Learning Excercise

You want to involve the team from the previous selection and competitive bake-off process in the pilot as well, even if they're not directly impacted by the pilot. You want to keep them engaged as activation supporters as the longer-term implementation process.

Lessons Learned from the Pilot

  • Did you architect the system optimally?
  • Do you have the right partners?
  • What unexpected bugs or problems cropped up?
  • What did you learn about migrating data and content?
  • Were your financial estimates correct?
  • What change management difficulties did you underestimate?

In the end, the pilot is where you wring out the last bits of risk from the process. It's where you optimize your roadmap and understand your level of effort going forward.

Next Steps

Check out RSG's hard-hitting vendor evaluations, designed to address the specialized strategic considerations you face.

The next edition of the RSVP selection series will cover Negotiating Contracts. See you next week....

Other Posts in the RSVP Selection Series

Establish Business Foundations

Identify Needs and Opportunities:

Conduct Market Analysis:

Communicate with Suppliers:

Try Before You Buy:

Make the Right Choice

  • Pilot Solution (you are here)
  • Negotiating Pricing and Contract (coming next week)

What's Next 

  • Implementation (coming later)

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