IT is expensive, so it makes sense to ensure we only pay for what we need, and know how to use it properly. For every story in the press extolling the benefits of IT there is one about failure, and subsequent waste of money. So how do buyers ensure they get a fit for purpose and value for money IT solution? I know IT is both complicated and boring for most people, but that is no reason not to apply appropriate rigour to the procurement process. Cars are complicated and I don't really know how they work, but I do know the essential features I want, for example a diesel engine with 5 doors which does 60 miles to the gallon and only costs £30 to tax. I have researched the market enough to know that there are cars meeting these criteria ranging from £15000 to £50000. So the question is can I justify the non-essential features that the luxury cars offer? I assume most people wouldn't buy a car without knowing how many seats it had or what the waiting list was? I may not be be a formula one driver, but I have been trained on the highway code and how to drive.

This may be a simplistic analogy, but same process can be applied to buying IT. Firstly what features (or functions) do you require? Which are mandatory and which are optional? How many users will you have and when do they need to use the system?  What sort of solutions are there in the market and what is the cost range? Who else uses these solutions and what do they think? However tedious it may be this research is critical to selecting the best solution. Don't forget the running costs such as support. How long will it take to implement? Finally ensure that everyone understands what the system is for and has been adequately trained.