Blog Posts Process Analysis

Project Selection Process S180

Blog: Biz-Performance, David Brown

S180 – Package Fit Study

SIIPS Selection Processes (S).png


S180 - Package Fit Study.pngA trial of the preferred solution based on outline business processes, to confirm its functional fit.


The primary objective of the package fit study is to confirm that the preferred solution does meet the client’s requirements to the extent suggested in the evaluation of the tenders and subsequent demonstrations.
There are a number of other objectives that can be set for the study, including to:
  • identify potential gaps in the functionality and the options for plugging the gaps such as work-arounds, future planned package enhancements or customised developments,
  • clarify the need for custom enhancements, as identified in previous processes; that is, deciding if each element of custom work is required and, if so, defining it in detail for the purposes of contract preparation,
  • finalise the “shopping list” of software modules (particularly, the “nice-to-have”s) and computer hardware (in particular: PCs vs VDUs and  number of printers),
  • update the business case to reflect the benefits and costs associated with the particular solution; for instance additional benefits from “extra” features within the package,
  • increase the project team’s understanding of the preferred solution and the issues to be clarified at reference site visits, considered for inclusion in the contract and taken into account in the preliminary implementation planning,
  • enable project team members and users who were not involved in previous demonstrations to see the package in use, feel involved in the selection process and develop commitment to the chosen solution.


This process is optional but recommended where feasible and appropriate.  The package fit study provides a valuable confirmation step, facilitates the gathering of loose ends at the conclusion of the selection process and provides key inputs to the preliminary implementation planning.


Prerequisites (Finish-Start):
  • Identification of a preferred solution following analysis of tenders and demonstrations
Dependent procedures (Finish-Start):
  • Contract negotiation


  • outstanding issues from previous selection processes


  • Business scenarios
  • Data requirements
  • Package fit study plan
  • Package fit study debrief and informal report


  • Skeleton package fit study plan
  • Modification Specification format
  • Cost Added Report format
  • Value Added Report format
  • Examples:  “Usability Principles” study
  • Examples:  “Usability Example” – user interface design approach


The fit study could range from a few days (probably funded by the vendor) to a number of weeks (probably funded by the client) depending on the desired objectives.
Normal practice is to undertake a fit study on a single preferred solution; however, it is possible to carry out (parallel or sequential) studies on two or more solutions as a means of choosing the preferred solution.
It is important that the objectives of the study and the required level of detail involved is clearly understood by the project team.  The package fit is not a full business simulation exercise.  The fit study uses outline business processes as a framework to run the software package so as to demonstrate that specific requirements can be satisfied.
Usually, the package fit does not involve any form of performance testing.
Typically, the package fit study is carried out on the client’s premises with the vendor providing the software, hardware and an appropriate team of people to support the exercise.


  • Make it known to the vendors, in the ITT and/or at the Vendor Conference, that a package fit study will be part of the selection process; stating clearly:
    • when the study is expected to take place and how long it will last,
    • whether the study is expected to involve one or more shortlisted solutions,
    • whether or not the client is prepared to meet any of the associated costs incurred by the vendor(s).
  • As soon as possible (probably at, or shortly after, the demonstrations) advise what the vendor is expected to provide for the study, including:
    • which software modules,
    • how many PCs, VDUs and printers,
    • which people (and when during the exercise),
  • Agree with the vendor what, if any, system and data set up needs to completed prior to the start of the study.  Typically, the fit study would begin with an “empty” system.
  • Arrange suitable accommodation in which to conduct the fit study allowing for necessary power supplies and telephone links (for modems).
  • Prepare appropriate business scenarios and supporting sample data.
  • Prepare a timetable for the activities in the fit study.
  • Prepare suitable documentation to record the issues that arise and progress their resolution.

Detail of recommended approach

Ensure that the business scenarios and supporting data are co-ordinated to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort, particularly in terms of data input required.  Avoid unnecessary volumes of data.
It is essential that the project team understand the business scenarios and what they are to demonstrate.  It is not normally necessary for the vendor to be given details of the business scenarios prior to the start of the study.  It is important that the project team drives the fit study and is not distracted by the vendor’s pre-conceived solutions to the business scenarios.
Begin each section of the exercise with a “mini-workshop” which comprises a presentation of the business scenarios and the anticipated approach to using the software followed by a discussion to refine the approach taking into account specific features of the package.  Ad hoc “mini-workshops” can be useful to debate issues and options that arise during the exercise.
In general, timetable the activities so that only one topic is being dealt with at a time.  In this way, it is easier to control the process and ensure that the necessary key resources (vendor, user and consultant) are involved when they are needed.  Also, this approach enables key users to be involved in most or all aspects of the study, so increasing the opportunity to develop their understanding of the total solution.
It may be expedient to run certain activities in parallel, where there is limited overlap in the business scenarios or people involved.  For example, when considering a complete business system, the financial ledgers may be of particular relevance to only part of the user team.
Detailed investigations such as working out the options to address gaps in functionality can be carried out within the main activities or can be timetabled as separate sessions, maybe running in parallel to the main activities.
Quantifying the costs and benefits can be left until after the fit study once the relevant package features and their implications are well understood.
The following matters should be investigated thoroughly and documented:
  • functional requirements which are not satisfied by the solution together within agreed options for plugging the gap (use Modification Specification),
  • general usability of the system
  • aspects of the use of the software package which may incur unexpected operating costs together with an estimate of these costs (use Cost Added Report),
  • aspects of the software package’s features which may provide unexpected benefits (use Value Added Report).

Avoid unstructured activities such as users “playing” with the system.

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