Selecting a software product is often a major investment.  Adoption of a new system by end users is not guaranteed, and a rushed or inadequate selection process is likely to cause problems with adoption, leading to wasted time, money and momentum.  It is critical to the success of the project that enough time is allocated to the product selection phase taking into account the size and complexity of the product requirements.

Pre-requisites: Before undertaking a market scan the project team should clearly understand and document each of the requirements, developed in partnership with any potential end-users, and other stakeholders.  See our guide for undertaking a product requirements analysis.

Outcome: The market scan phase involves developing a realistic list of potential products that are likely to meet most or all of the functionality requirements, and undertaking a superficial evaluation of those products.  The number of products identified will depend of the size of the project and the potential impact of the solution.  A large project should seek to identify as many products as possible, between 10-20 products is likely to be more successful than just identifying one or two at this stage.

Steps:

1. Identify the category your product will fall into. 

Some examples are: Lecture tools, ePortfolio, online quizzes, course management, and assessment management. 

2. Identify products that fit into your category. 

Use exsisting networks - colleagues working in other large faculties or teaching institutions may have had experience with similar tools which you can add to the list. The TLS team in ITS can contact other University eLearning teams for ideas, leads and experiences. Use Google.  Trawl other University websites. 

Using a spreadsheet, list your requirements in the A column, and add each potential product across the columns.

Market scan example

3. Perform a preliminary evaluation of the products based on the criteria.

This is the most time consuming part of this process.  Visit each website of the products identified and find evidence that the product will meet the individual criteria.  Using a scale of 0-2, rate each criterion in the adjoining cell.

Example ratings:

0 – Does not meet criteria

1 – Might or partially meets criteria

2 – Meets or exceeds criteria

Ratings

4. Total the scores at the bottom of the columns, and rate the products in order of potential solutions.

This list can then be used to rule out any products that fail to meet required criteria, shortlisting to a more manageable list for further investigation.

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