Companies are wasting millions of dollars every year on failed Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) system acquisitions. The symptoms are well known: budget overrun, missed dead lines, bad quality and bad client supplier relations. Even when the acquisition project in itself is a success there is no guarantee that the system will ever deliver the expected benefits, because the expectations of functionality were never properly aligned with the business goals.
In order to avoid this we have developed an evaluation framework called the Sensor Six Hexagon Framework. It will guide your COTS evaluation through the most important criteria and increase the likelihood of success for your COTS acquisition. The Sensor Six Hexagon Framework operates with six groups of criteria:
Functionality – This aspect considers how the software is to be used. For example which business processes it is meant to support, the usability and specific functions. The purpose of evaluation here is to ascertain the degree to which the functionality is useful. What does the system do?
Implementation – The purpose of this group is to evaluate implementation process. How long will it take, how big is the suppliers experience and cultural compatibility. Here all criteria related to the project of making the COTS functional are considered. How will we implement it
Risk – As the name suggests the risk group has to do with all aspects of what could go wrong. Is the product immature or is security low? Is the supplier just about to go bankrupt? This type of questions should be asked here.
Strategy – Has to do with a long term orientation for the supplier as well as the customer. The customer might want to consider whether this supplier fits with his strategy, but also whether he thinks that he as a customer belongs to a key segment of the supplier.
Integration – is about how this system will work with all other systems in the enterprise. Is there a well known way to integrate it? Does it have a well defined interface?
Operation – Once it has become implemented how is the systems operational aspects: Support, performance, upgrades etc.
The framework is based on empirical research from 10 client cases of COTS acquisition. They were grouped into successes and failures. Based on what was done in the evaluation process we were able to conclude the following
1) All succesful projects had evaluated criteria from all six groups of the Sensor Six Hexagon framework
2) All failures could be predicted from the failure to evaluate properly before acquiring the COTS system
3) The more criteria and the more thoroughly they were evaluated the higher the likelihood of success
4) No single criterion stood out as the most common cause of failure. Every failure was due to a missing evaluation of a unique combination of criteria
The Sensor Six Hexagon is available as a template in Decision Orchestrator and we also use it in consulting as basis of our Accelerated COTS Acquisition Process (ACAP), but anyone can benefit from it. Contact us for a whitepaper describing how. The benefits of using the Hexagon Framework is larger success rate, quicker decision process, and alignment to your companies strategic and operational goals.