We have been doing software selections for over 22 years at SoftResources, and have found that one of the most important success factors in any selection is to stay with the process. It is tempting to want to change things mid-stream, for example add or subtract requirements, change requirement importance, make last minute adjustments to demonstration scripts, or to add or subtract entire modules on the fly. All of the above is especially true in a formal RFP situation.
When you make such changes, the entire selection (and future implementation) can be put at risk. For example, when you issue a selection or formal RFP, vendors evaluate whether they are a good fit or not for the project. Once they submit responses and/or provide onsite demos, they feel they have a good chance at getting your business and have invested significant time and resources to the pursuit. If you change the requirements on them, it’s like changing the rules of a game mid-stream and you quite possibly could be not only wasting your time but theirs as well. Deviating from the process also may lead to snowballing. You’ve already made changes, so what’s the harm in more?!
If we were managing your selection, your team will have spent a significant amount of time developing the requirements, RFP, etc. Making changes to those, or other pitfalls such as changing demo scripts late in the schedule, will create confusion for both the vendor and your team. What is important? What is in or out of scope? This can affect the consistency of demo scoring, and often can be reflected in lowered team morale as well.
This is not to say that you cannot make ANY changes to a selection once it’s started, just to be judicious and keep them to an absolute minimum. With each change, the risk of selection and/or implementation problems tend to exponentiate.
Take the time to plan your selection, and then resist “mission creep” or the allure of “putting more items on the table for negotiation”. Trust your process and planning to take you across the finish line!