Selecting hardware and software for implementing information system in an organization is a serious and time-consuming process that passes through several phases. The main steps of the selection process are listed below:
1. Requirement analysis: – System configuration requirements are clearly identified and a decision to acquire the system is taken in this step.
2. Preparation of tender specifications: – After studying the feasibility and deciding upon the configuration, tender documents are prepared for the benefit of vendors to clarify the details of various specifications, as listed below.
I) Purchase procedure and schedule: it includes
a) Date of tender submission
b) Evaluation criteria
c) Scope for negotiations, if any and
d) Expected usage environment and load pattern
ii) Equipment specification
Detailed technical specifications of each item required for both mandatory and optional items.
II) Quotation format:
a) Format for stating technical details and quoting prices
b) Whether deviations from specifications should be specifically listed
c) Prices and levies (duties, taxes etc.) could be quoted as lumpsum or required separately.
d) Required validity of the quotation.
e) Earnest money deposit required, if any.
III) Proposed terms of contract
a) Expected delivery schedule.
b) Uptime warranties required
c) Penalty clause, if any
d) Payment terms (Whether advance payment acceptable)
e) Arbitrary clauses
f) Training needs.
g) Post warranty maintenance terms expected.
v) Any additional information required.
3. Inviting tenders: – After the preparation of tender specifications, tenders are invited. Invitation of tenders may depend upon the magnitude of purchase (estimate equipment cost). It may be through
i) Open tender (through newspaper advertisement)
ii) Limited tender (queries sent to a few selected vendors)
iii) Propriety purchase (applies mostly to upgrade requirements)
iv) Direct purchase from market. (applies mostly to consumables)
4. Technical scrutiny and short listing: – This step involves the following activities.
i) All tendered bids are opened on a pre-defined date and time.
ii) Deviations from the specifications, if any, in each bid are noted.
iii) A comparative summery is prepared against the list of tendered technical features.
Additional factors to considered are:
i) Financial health of the vendor
(from balance sheets)
ii) Nature and extent of support
(from information provided on number of support staff per installed site an cross-check with selected customers)
iii) Engineering quality pf products
(factory inspection of product facilities, QA procedures and R&D)
5. Detailed evaluation of short listed vendors: – This step primarily involves getting any finer technical clarifications. Visits to customer sites and factory inspections may be planned. If any specific performance requirement is stipulated, the offered product is to be examined at this stage through suitable benchmark tests. For benchmark tests, standard benchmarks may be used as adequate performance indicators.
6. Negotiation and procurement decision: – Because of the extensive competition, computer system vendors may offer significant concessions. Negotiations are held to maximize these concessions. However, price negotiations are often not permitted by some organizations.
When price negotiations are permitted, the committee members should have a good knowledge of the prevailing market prices, current trends, and also the duty/tax structure.
i) Computer magazines
ii) Vendor directories.
iii) Contact with other users
iv) Past personal experience.
7. Delivery and installation: – In this step, the vendor delivers the hardware/software to the buyer’s organization, where it is matched with the specifications mentioned in the purchase order. If conforms to these specifications, the vendor installs the system in the premises of the organization.
8. Post-installation review: – After the system is installed, a system evaluation is made to determine how closely the new system conforms to the plan. A post-installation review, in which system specifications and user requirements are audited, is made. The feedback obtained in this step helps in taking corrective decision.