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  • Writer's pictureDavid Panitch

The 5 Functional Traits Of A Software Selection Team

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick M. Lencioni examines how teams fail to work harmoniously by perpetuating certain behaviors. It’s a very good business book, but since I prefer to put a positive spin on things, I’m going to turn it on its head and discuss the traits that make teams functional in the context of a software selection team.

Software selection involves considering and comparing the available options based on a wide range of technical and non-technical factors. While an organization may be aware of the needs it’s trying to address through the required software, these needs might not always translate directly into existing solutions; realizing what to invest in, and how to tailor it to fit just right, requires considerable domain expertise.

But the fact that domain expertise is relevant in as technical a domain as software development and deployment shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. What should surprise you is the relevance and importance of the underlying interpersonal qualities that deeply affect the functioning of any team. Software selection may be a technically-guided and nuanced process, but it is still privy to the pitfalls that may befall any activity that is subject to a “team”.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at five traits that are critical to software selection teams, and examine how they are liable to affect the process of selection.

1. Trust

Trust is essential to team function regardless of what field that team is active in. When it comes to a process like software selection, which has multiple stakeholders across multiple levels of an organization, trust and confidence in one another becomes even more relevant.

Consensus and consistent vision are both integral to the selection process. Individuals who are part of the team must always be aware of their own and their teammates’ strengths and weaknesses with regard to their roles on the selection team. It is important to sensitively account for these weaknesses in order to maintain a positive atmosphere that is conducive to constructive feedback.

2. Healthy Conflict

Building upon trust as a precursor, healthy conflict allows teams to achieve greater efficiency toward a task by minimizing their tendency to get bogged down by elements like work politics. A healthy, competitive environment facilitates quick and well-structured problem-solving, while also allowing the team to shed light upon and subsequently focus on the critical considerations that affect the process.

In the selection process this may occur when one department feels that a particular requirement or functionality should be rated more importantly than another department’s requirement. Not all requirements are equal, and not all departments will get absolutely everything that they want with a new software solution. Some hard decisions need to be made and can be by a highly effective team.

3. Commitment

When it comes to software selection, commitment and dedication play a critical role in informing how the process is structured. Especially as it relates to the people leading the process, foresightedness and commitment to a clear vision help achieve consistent, steady progress. The team leader’s ability to reinforce this commitment to their team members helps the entire team cohesively work towards a common goal while functioning like a well-oiled machine.

This is as relevant in the initial stages of selection when an organization is trying to decide on a budget and analyze their needs to when demos are critiqued and people are vying for their needs over the entire organization’s needs.

4. Accountability

Of course, trust and healthy conflict can do little to support team activities in the absence of accountability. Maintaining accountability across multiple levels of hierarchy helps the selection remain positive, where all actions are meant to achieve constructive results instead of to undermine.

This also helps individuals take ownership of their roles within the process and minimizes wasted effort. The work of a software selection team is temporary, but the lack of accountability could leave a permanent scar on the project. If everyone has the same level of accountability, the team has an excellent success rate in crossing the decision finish line.

5. A Results-Oriented Approach

The software selection process is a journey and requires a team to focus on objectives and achievements and not harp on the trivial elements of the process. An approach that focuses on the results of the selection process allows the team to minimize individualistic behavior and avoid distractions. Always having the project goals and objectives in the forefront of your team’s mind will keep you focused on the best possible decision for your organization.

Selecting a major business system takes time. While I am not suggesting to slow walk your selection, don’t rush through it by checking off “boxes”. This is one of the riskiest decisions that your organization will probably ever make. You can lower your risk factors exponentially by consulting with a software selection consultant that knows your industry. Ask about their selection methodology and how they can dramatically reduce your risk of decision.

Additionally, they need to fit with your team, too since they will be leading them through the process from start to finish.

Results Technology Group provides technology solutions to our clients with best-in-class software selection, project management, and business technology leadership services. Schedule a free 30-minute technology discussion.

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