The eightfold path to enterprise solutions

The Bangkok Post, Mar 31, 2010

Bangkok, Thailand -- In our continuous monitoring of supply chain publications, we came across a particularly apt piece for Thailand, namely "Buddhism and software selection" from TEC's Evaluation Centers.

Of course, Buddhist philosophy can find its way into virtually every aspect of one's life, even choosing the right solution to business requirements, including choosing enterprise software business.

A central tenet of the teachings of Lord Buddha is the Eightfold Path as a way to end suffering. Certainly, in business, we often feel like we are suffering or, at least, struggling a bit.

While Lord Buddha's search for the Four Noble Truths (one of which is the Eightfold Path) was a deeper spiritual journey, TEC author Sherry Fox aimed to apply this wisdom to the practical way of choosing enterprise software:

1. Right view: Before you start on your journey to choosing enterprise software for your company, you must have a clear understanding of what you're looking for. By identifying your needs and creating a detailed graphical model of how your company conducts business (better known as business process modelling, or BPM), you will begin to see the bigger picture.

2. Right intention: What is the reason behind your decision to purchase a new enterprise solution? Do you want to get with the times and have the latest technology the market has to offer? Do you want to improve operational efficiency? Make sure your intention is for the "right reasons". In the end, you'll be glad you did - especially when you see that return on investment.

3. Right speech: When it comes to convincing the "powers that be" that integrating a new system is the right thing to do, you'd better have a proposal prepared. Put together a proper business case and present it to your company's decision makers.

4. Right action: With software selection, you can't afford to waste time. By using the proper methodology for choosing enterprise software, you can be sure your right actions will speak volumes in the end at the go-live stage.

5. Right livelihood: If one stretches it a little to make "livelihood" mean "business", the way one makes money, the opportunity at this point is to ensure that you are aligned in your endeavour here with your business strategy.

6. Right effort: Software selection is a very long process and takes a team of dedicated individuals to bring a project to fruition. With proper guidance and planning, and the right amount of effort, you can ensure your selection project will have a successful outcome.

7. Right mindfulness: Don't be clouded by a vendor's promises. It's easy to get swept up in all the bells and whistles these products offer. The important thing is that you keep in mind all the features and functions that you really need and be sure that you settle for nothing less.

8. Right concentration: Concentration can be defined as "the direction of all thought or effort toward one particular task, idea, or subject". Placing your concentrated effort on finding the best-fit solution for your needs, as well as using the proper tools, will help ensure you make all the right choices along the way. While there are many paths to choosing the right enterprise software, there's only one solution that will be the right fit for your business.

While Ms Fox focused on software selection, she stresses that the Eightfold Path is a thoughtful way of approaching any challenge in life. For example, she introduced work by Eugene Bardach, a professor at University of California, Berkeley, to create courses of action or inaction taken by governmental bodies:

- define the problem;
- assemble some evidence;
- construct the alternatives;
- select the criteria;
- project the outcomes;
- confront the trade-offs;
- decide;
- tell your story.