Ours is a society of technophiles. We readily adopt \u2013 and rely heavily upon \u2013 the software that powers our digital devices to entertain us, to make us more productive, to monitor our health, or to get us safely from Point A to Point B, and back again.\nWith this passionate (some might say \u201cfrantic\u201d) adoption of consumer technology, it is understandable that we are encouraged to believe that a compelling, easy-to-install, easy-to-configure software solution already exists to address our most pressing personal and business challenges. \u201cThere\u2019s an app for that\u201d has become as axiomatic as \u201cNothing is certain but death and taxes.\u201d\nPerhaps an app does exist for *almost* all personal productivity and entertainment needs, but in the case of enterprise business systems and the workflows they enable, a software application resides within a COMPLEX and MESSY ecosystem of people, politics, conflicting expectations, and ultimately limited resources.\nStart a conversation about addressing a business challenge with the question \u201cwhat vendor tool\/application\/platform should we select to address problem X?\u201d and you are already heading down the wrong path, as emphasized in the first two risks of Chris Doig\u2019s 18 enterprise software selection risks and how to avoid them.\nIn my line of business \u2013 professional software services \u2013 we call this \u201cjumping to the solution.\u201d At the risk of preaching to the converted, I want to remind us all that a technical tool is not the solution to a business performance challenge \u2013 it is simply an enabler of successful execution, once we understand what we want to execute.\nCards on the table\nI should probably admit that I am the worst offender of my own guidance to clients. As someone who has spent the majority of his career designing software solutions and writing code, I have an innate obsession with \u201ctalking tech.\u201d It\u2019s just part of the developer and software architect\u2019s DNA.\nMy particular area of professional interest and focus, Business Intelligence (BI), Data, and Analytics, moderates my natural enthusiasm to move immediately to discussions of tools, platforms, and languages however. BI is all about the business drivers and designing a system that models and implements the capabilities most needed for enterprise users to obtain useful insights. Tool decisions like \u201cwe should use this digitally-calibrated Craftsman nail gun\u201d always take a back seat to business capability decisions such as \u201cAre we trying to cut that board into equal lengths, or just attach it to a window frame?\u201d\nA common scenario\nTake for example the issue of enterprise data quality, or more accurately, the perception that your organization\u2019s corporate data is of poor quality and therefore provides little value to your business users. A strategic priority is to leverage the value of that data.\nOne approach is to invest in a fancy new tool, let\u2019s say for Master Data Management (MDM).\u00a0 Plenty of excellent, well-designed MDM platforms and tools exist on the market, and the list of features they provide are indeed impressive. With one of them, your organization can create clean, well-scrubbed master lists of customer, or product, or location data. Problem solved - the world is good.\nBut then inevitable business questions and requirements start to arise during implementation, all of which we have seen in real-world client scenarios:\n\nWho makes the decisions regarding how entities like \u201ccustomer\u201d or \u201cproduct\u201d are defined? Do we all agree on the rules? How are these decisions communicated down the organizational hierarchy?\nHow do we publish and make visible our policies on centrally-curated data? How do we audit and enforce compliance with using the master lists?\nMuch of our required data arrives from non-curated, third-party sources; it is of poor quality, and only relates marginally, or not at all, to our master lists. How do we handle that?\nMany of our users need to include data in their reports that don\u2019t exist within the master lists; this data resides in multiple sources.\nHistorically, our business users have employed spreadsheets to create their own reports and analysis from dubious data sources; they tend not to wait for IT-created reports.\nEtc.\n\nThe list above will continue to grow and evolve based upon your particular business scenario. After careful analysis, you may discover that your organization has a \u201cdata governance,\u201d \u201cdata access,\u201d \u201cdata consolidation,\u201d or \u201cself-service reporting\u201d problem \u2013 or all of the above \u2013 that is not addressed by the feature set of the tool your organization purchased.\nStart with the goal: Required capabilities, not available features\nIn your role as a business manager, director, or executive, don\u2019t allow your well-intended, enthusiastic and almost assuredly very skilled technical team members to derail the much-needed business capabilities discussion by \u201cjumping to the solution\u201d too quickly.\nIn a market dominated by hyped and trending new technologies (No SQL, Big Data, Machine Learning, Data Visualization\u2026take your pick), the importance of identifying and prioritizing the business needs \u2013 what do we want to do, why do we want to accomplish it, and is it worth the cost \u2013 is the most important step to take before making a business investment in a technology tool or platform.