On Products selection

(01.12.2011)

Balance

Often we face the problem of selecting a right product for us (middleware, utility programs, COTS, and so on). What should we do in order to make an informed and managed choice? Here I’d like to propose a little no non-sense approach.

Basically we need to know what we want, what are our needs. Then we can collect characteristics and factoids about the solution the market provides. It’s worth noticing that at this point we select only the products that could match our needs, and nothing more (hopefully). Now the question become “how much well do they match our needs?”.

Now, for each selected product, we can study it, prove it and collect data to analyze its behaviour: for each features we can assign a score (eg: from 1 to 5). Using sandboxes can also help us to refine the previously done needs analysis.

Of course features/needs are scored too: we don’t give to all of them the same importance. So each scored features is also weighted.

At this point we have a score for each product: we are able to make an informed choice with a little qualitative analysis. A (little) time worth spent!

To summarize:

  1. features and needs analysis (= WHAT we need)
  2. products gathering (= what COULD match my needs)
  3. products analysis and scoring (= HOW MUCH do they match, and need analysis refinement)
  4. weighted choice (= THE best for us)

Some example of characteristics:

  • product age (more stable, young, not well tested/adopted)
  • cost of installation, education, maintenance and operations
  • how “stable” is the product owner (company or open source community)
  • available documentation (generally easy to evaluate)

Simple, but often forgotten!

(photo credits Marzacas)



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