When we started SoftResources in 1995, we pioneered the idea of using key differentiating requirements in order to efficiently evaluate software solutions. At the time, we found that companies that were doing software selection projects were building a long requirements document and then sending it out to a bunch of vendors to see who would respond. We found this to be a very inefficient and ineffective process!
This broken software selection methodology exists today. A mid-market company recently came to us for help after they had a consultant develop a list of requirements that contained 1300 line items and sent an RFP to 7 vendors. Only 1 vendor responded! They ended up cutting the requirements document and re-sending it to their list of vendors, plus a few others that we identified.
Differentiating requirements are those requirements that are 1) your most important requirements, 2) requirements that not all vendors can handle, and 3) requirements that are unique to your company and/or industry. By focusing on the key differentiators in the initial stages of your vendor analysis, you can quickly eliminate those that are not a fit and focus your efforts on doing a more detailed analysis of a shorter list of qualified vendors.
We have used this key Differentiating Requirements methodology with over 675 organizations worldwide from small startup companies to some of the largest companies in the world. This approach makes software evaluation efficient and saves everyone (both you and the vendors) time and money.