What should you look for in IT solutions nowadays, beyond cost? Based on conversations I’ve had with CEOs and product managers during the last five months, thinking has changed from favoring the long view to looking for instant gratification. Whether the following product-selection criteria seem to you on the cynical side or merely pragmatic, here are some requirements you might want to remind yourself to look for:

1. Ease of setup, with visible and immediate benefits. IT projects these days need to show a quick ROI or they get put on hold. Setup should be so easy that your very-intelligent-receptionist-who-has-little-IT-training can tackle it between buzzing people through security, or your manager’s teenager who is a mouse-clicking and GUI guru in World of Warcraft can figure it out during a morning playing hooky from school. Add to that immediate results that tend toward the dramatically improved and you’ll warm the cockles of your money-loving CEO’s heart.

2. Modularity and scalability. If your organization tends toward “the glass is half empty” thinking, modularity is important: You buy only what you need and can afford, period. If, on the other hand, your organization tends toward “the glass is half full” thinking, scalability is important: You buy something that will fit you now and in the future when (of course) the company expands and prospers.

3. Ease of use. There’s something ungrateful about an employee who’s been trained to the tune of several thousand dollars’ worth of seminars and classes who then takes off for greener fields of play, don’t you think? Well, if you’re the one left behind to pick up the pieces, yes. Here’s where automation rears its often-ugly head and reveals its beauty-queen nature. Yes, we know automation has put many a worker on the unemployment benefits circuit, but of course automation in IT just means you don’t have to do the dirty work anymore and can save your extensive skills for—somewhat less dirty work. And if a solution is automated, or with an interface that’s familiar to any admin in the Windows world, and requires only a few minutes to figure out and get using, all the better. Did I mention web-based interfaces? You know the solution providers love ‘em and that’s because they think you-all love ‘em. Web-based interfaces are de rigueur.

So what’s an example of a product that meets the above criteria? Maybe there aren’t any that can meet those somewhat inflated expectations. But all exaggeration aside, The Dot Net Factory’s recent release, EmpowerID 2009, is one solution that aims to be easy to set up, easy to use, with noticeable and quick ROI.

Here’s what I know from talking to the company’s founders, Patrick Parker and Brad Mandell, who are also its CEO and its chairman, respectively: It’s the only identity lifecycle management solution whose platform incorporates business process management and role-based access control policies that are continuously enforced.

Incorporating the familiar appearance of a Windows app, it automates provisioning and de-provisioning, as well as the control of group membership and resource access based on people’s roles within an organization, through the use of flexible workflows. It’s modular and scalable, so you can purchase just the password self service reset—which the company says is a number-1 ROI generator.

Or you can purchase several modules or the suite, which encompasses Role-Based User Provisioning / De-Provisioning; Multi-Directory Password Synchronization and Self-Service Reset; Multi-Directory Information Synchronization and Self-Service; and Delegated Identity Administration. Prices range from $5 per person to $35 per person, depending on the modules you select. Check with the company for more information.