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Chapter 8 Product Evaluation Strategies and Support Standards.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 8 Product Evaluation Strategies and Support Standards."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 8 Product Evaluation Strategies and Support Standards

2 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 2 How product standards emerged Common tools and methods analysts use to evaluate and select computer products How organizations develop and implement product standards Learning Objectives

3 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 3 User Support Role in Product Standards Support workers often have expertise to evaluate competing products many employees do not have Eliminates duplication of effort if many employees individually evaluate products Support employees can act as liaison between users and IT staff to represent viewpoints of each group

4 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 4 Product standards are lists of hardware, operating systems, network and applications software products selected to meet the needs of end users During 1980s Significant incompatibility among computer products Incompatible platforms were viewed as a marketing advantage How Product Standards Emerged

5 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 5 Limited ability to transfer data between systems and between users Excessive inventory of parts required to support multiple vendors’ systems Difficulty to train and equip hardware service technicians User skills not transferable to other systems Increased cost to support incompatible systems Support staff couldn’t be experts on all systems Training had to be targeted to specific platforms Problems Caused by Product Incompatibility

6 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 6 During 1980s, to reduce acquisition and support costs, companies began to standardize on a few selected hardware platforms designed to meet users’ needs adopt standard operating systems, and in the 1990s, standard network operating systems limit the choice of application software to a few standard application packages in each software category Early Development of Product Standards

7 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 7 Product evaluation is a process of researching and analyzing computer product features, capabilities, and suitability to solve specific user needs Product evaluation process 1.Collect product information 2.Test, compare, and evaluate advantages and disadvantages of competing products 3.Make decisions or recommendations Methods for Evaluating and Selecting Computer Products

8 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 8 Vendor literature, marketing information, Web sites, and user manuals Demonstrations and evaluation software Product reviews and comparison articles in computer periodicals and in e-zines on the Web An e-zine is an electronic magazine organized like a print publication, but distributed via the Internet Opinions from industry experts in trade publications and Internet news groups Opinions of employees who have experience with various products Resources Available to Help Evaluate Computer Products

9 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 9 Sample Sources of Product Information: Web sites

10 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 10 Sample Sources of Product Information: Trade Publications

11 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 11 Computing Review InfoWorld MacWorld MaximumPC Network Computing PC Magazine PCWorld Smart Computing Tom’s Hardware Guide ZDNet Industry (Trade) Periodicals that Publish Product Comparisons

12 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 12 Software Evaluations A software evaluation copy permits support staff to try out a product’s features assess a product’s ability to meet user needs Software evaluation copies Distributed via CD-ROM Internet download May have limited features May operate for a limited trial period

13 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 13 Industry standard or best-selling products Products used by competitors Benchmarks Weighted point evaluation method Request for proposal (RFP) Acknowledged subjective criteria Product Decision-making Tools

14 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 14 Industry standard products are computer products that are market leaders in sales Not really a “standard” defined by an independent organization, such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Advantages Can reduce support costs Likely to be targeted by trade book publishers, training materials developers, and support service vendors Disadvantages May not meet needs of specialized users Standards based on market share change over time Industry Standard Best-selling Products

15 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 15 Get user input before making software selection decision Find out which products end users have experience with Identify advantages and disadvantages of competing products for specialized tasks Learn whether users have preferences among products Adopting Industry Standard or Best-selling Products

16 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 16 Competitors may have thoroughly researched the market and identified strategic reasons for adopting products, especially in niche markets A niche or vertical market is a software market that is highly specialized to a specific industry Example: software for title companies` Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of products that competitors use Products Competitors Use

17 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 17 Benchmark is an objective test used to compare the capabilities of competing products Benchmarks are unbiased because they use objective evaluation criteria that are not influenced by personal opinion Benchmarks try to eliminate extraneous variables that could bias the results of a product comparison Benchmarks

18 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 18 Benchmarks (continued) Benchmarks can be used to evaluate Hardware Speed Capacity Software User productivity Vendors that provide hardware and software benchmarks Business Applications Performance (BAPCO) PassMark Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation VeriTest

19 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 19 Weighted Point Evaluation Method uses several evaluation criteria of predefined importance to arrive at a numerical score for each product also called Kepner-Tregoe method Goal: to make the evaluation and selection process as objective as possible Treat competing products equally Eliminate favoritism or bias among evaluators Force evaluators to specify in advance the important factors in evaluation Weighted Point Evaluation Method

20 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 20 Steps in Weighted Point Evaluation Method 1. Decide on evaluation criteria 2. Determine importance of each criterion 3. Rate each product against all evaluation criteria 4. Compute average rating for each product for each criterion 5. Weight the product rating by the importance of the criterion 6. Compute the total rating for each product 7. Compare product ratings

21 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 21 continued Examples of Criteria Used in Weighted Point Evaluation Method

22 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 22 Example of Weighted Point Evaluation Results

23 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 23 Request for Proposal (RFP) is a product selection or competitive bidding procedure that uses objective criteria to select among products proposed by vendors Often used as the basis for awarding a contract to provide computer products May be a legal requirement for computer selection in public agencies An objective product and vendor selection tool The Request for Proposal (RFP)

24 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e Conduct a needs analysis 2. Develop a purchase specification 3. Define decision criteria importance of each criterion 4. Write the RFP document 5. Send the RFP to prospective vendors 6. Receive vendor proposals describes how vendor’s products address user requirements bid price 7. Analyze vendor responses to the RFP often uses weighted point evaluation tools 8. Select a vendor and award the contract continued Primary Steps in the RFP Process

25 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 25 Subjective evaluation criteria are factors that are not directly related to the fit between product features and user needs Based on: personal relationships convenience personal preferences traditional practices Are neither measurable nor repeatable from one evaluator to another Subjective Evaluation Criteria

26 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 26 Help control user support costs by limiting the number of hardware and software options users can choose May offer options to balance two extremes One-size fits all Buy whatever you want Often adopted by larger organizations with a substantial investment in computer technology because the potential for waste is so large Product Support Standards

27 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 27 Company computer culture Historic computer traditions Product standards committee is a group which defines computer product standards and coordinates their use Composed of support specialists end users technical support staff management How Organizations Develop Computer Product and Support Standards

28 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 28 Changes in Computer Product Standards Changes in computer product standards may be met with user resistance Users are comfortable with existing standard If it ain’t broke, why fix it? Changes in standards should be discussed with users involve users in decisions

29 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 29 Computer Use Standards Acceptable use guidelines are policies adopted by an organization about how users are permitted and not permitted to use computer systems Activities that are prohibited by organizational policy Activities that are illegal

30 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 30 Adoption and implementation of product and service standards is influenced by: – Investment in existing hardware and software – Continual arrival of new products, services, and product upgrades Conversion to new standards can result in loss of employee productivity during transition period can be phased in over time How Organizations Implement Computer Product Standards

31 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 31 Criteria Used to Update Product Standards New products offer technical improvements New product features may improve user productivity Employee preferences change over time New products offer cost savings New products may be compatible with or set new industry standards New products become best-sellers

32 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 32 Requires analysis and evaluation of products and services Triggers potential support cost increases for installation, upgrades, training, documentation, trouble-shooting, and help desk services Adopting or Modifying Technology Standards

33 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 33 In order to reduce computer product and support costs and increase compatibility, many organizations began to develop product standards during the 1980s User support staff often evaluate computer products and services to be able to make recommendations to users that will meet their needs Support staff use a variety of information resources to evaluate computer products Chapter Summary

34 Guide to Computer User Support, 3e 34 Chapter Summary (continued) Aids to product evaluation and selection decisions Industry standards Best-selling products Products used by competitors Benchmarks Weighted Point Evaluation Method Request for Proposals (RFP) Product standards are based on company culture or tradition decisions by a product standards committee Organizations also adopt acceptable use policies to communicate what uses are and are not permitted


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