You don't want your users wading through a mass of complexity, and you don't want all roles seeing the same user interface. Ideally, you want every screen to have exactly what you want on it, without having to build your own tool. But customization has to be easy. You can't afford to bring in a consultant to work on your tools when you barely have enough resources to focus on your core business.
Now one option, that you may find some tool vendors somewhat keen on, is to buy the solution customized. That is, for a small fee, or even included in the purchase price, they meet with you and identify the key customizations needed, and implement them as part of the "sales" process, so that you can evaluate the final product as part of your evaluation. If the vendor has an easy to customize tool, this is a no-brainer for the vendor. But if the tool is not easy to customize, you'll find that the vendor won't agree to anything without an outrageous consulting contract to go along with the tool purchase. This is one way to easily evaluate both the vendor and the tool's customization capabilities, while at the same time getting a more exact platform to evaluate.
4. Training of personnel on the CM/ALM tools and process
If you're a small business, you want to get a tool in, spend an hour or two with your
team familarizing them with the tool and then cut them loose. You don't want to have to spend days or even weeks investing in training. Training can easily be the highest up-front cost with some tools.
You do want to spend some time ensuring that your team understands the process. But having understood the process, they should be able to pick up the tool in no time. Even better still, the tool should act as a guide to help your team
learn the process. It should let each team member know what's on his or her to-do list. It should clearly show state flows and have easy access to interactive process flow. Not many CM/ALM tools are going to do this for you, but there are some out there, and even some that won't cost you an arm and a leg. Even better, the tools
should provide on-line process help for your users and allow you to adjust the
process help easily as you change the process.
The goal is to get your team up and running while learning the process. If the tools can help teach the process that's all the better. If not, make sure that you're aware of the costs involved. Don't let a vendor tell you that you're having problems because you didn't do enough training. And don't let a vendor sell you canned training.
Training has to be customized to your organization. Look at options such as computer-aided training, or low-cost custom training packages. This is where it helps to work with the vendor to introduce your tool customizations as part of the sales process.
5. Training CM managers and administrators to support the process
You will have to designate one or (preferably) two individuals to be the administrators
of your CM/ALM solution. In most small businesses, this person will also be your CM manager. But what if you don't have the budget to hire a CM manager. Not to worry. There are a number of tools out there that do not require anywhere near a full-time position for the CM manager and administration job. There are fewer such tools that also cover the ALM function adequately, and even fewer that will cost-effectively allow the same person to adjust your processes.
Training of these