The section of an appropriate computer system, both hardware and application software package demands a high level of expertise and many organizations use a consultant either to provide guidance to their personnel or to manage this activity.
The steps involved in selection of a computer system are:
1. Prepare the design specifications.
2. Prepare and distribute an RFP (Request for proposal) to selected computer vendors.
3. On the basis of an analysis of proposals, eliminate vendors whose proposals are inferior.
4. Have vendors present their proposals.
5. Conduct further analysis of the proposals.
6. Contact present users of the proposed systems.
7. Conduct equipment benchmark tests.
8. Select the equipment.
During feasibility study, the EDP manager will list down various requirements of the organization based on which specifications of the computer will be laid down. These mandatory specifications would then constitute an over-riding criterion of selection. If a vendor fails to meet them, the manager would simply screen out the vendor without any further consideration. These specifications would establish a desired configuration that might include for example, the required minimum main memory size, the required characteristics of secondary memory, and general types and capacities of input and output equipment needed, etc. Usually, design specifications should be developed without reference to any specific models of equipment or to a particular vendor‘s product line.
After that, a RFP (request of proposal) is prepared by the organization and given to vendors, asking the vendors to prepare a bid and submit it to the organization. The RFP contains all details that are necessary for a vendor to prepare a fully detailed proposal. Typically, the RFP also contains a deadline for bidding, the length of which depends on the complexity of the project — for example, just a few weeks for hardware, and longer periods of time for systems requiring custom development tasks. After responses to RFP have been received, they are evaluated by the organization. Meetings are scheduled with each vendor, whose bid is competitive in terms of price and meeting the requirements of RFP. The participants at each meeting include representative from the vendor, representative from the steering committee, and representatives from the design team. The vendor‘s role is to present its proposal and to answer questions from the other participants. The evaluation committee‘s role is to listen to the vendor proposals, provide input to the steering
committee about the pros and cons of each one, and perhaps made a recommendation for a preferred vendor.
Frequently, vendors who survive this presentation are nevertheless asked to revise their proposal in significant respects. The after-presentation equipment analysis is carried out in even greater details, and it involves the proposals of only those vendors who remain in competition which may be only one or two. At this point, the organization should be satisfied that the system still being considered can solve its problems in a cost effective manner. If this is not the case, the drastic steps of rewriting the design specifications and of submitting RFP to other vendors must be considered.