Four Questions to Ask Potential Software Partners

The software your firm uses has an incredible impact on your business performance, so it is important to choose wisely. Purveyors of software are typically referred to as vendors or providers but they are more like business partners.

Whether you are looking for a comprehensive solution to implement throughout the company or a specific function like demand planning software, it can be very difficult to be sure you are selecting the best partner for you. Here are four questions to ask throughout the selection process.

What Can You Do For Us?

Before asking this question, figure out what you need. Generate a precise and exhaustive list of requirements. If the software you are considering offers solutions to every item on the list it will should be a perfect fit. However, you likely have information technology already in place, so be sure the new software will coordinate with legacy systems or replace them completely with little headache for users. Because each company is unique, be sure your IT experts will be able to make adjustments to fit your specific situation.

How Much Will It Cost—Really?

Every business project has a budget, and since most IT projects don’t directly generate income top executives may be less forgiving about overages. Be sure the price quote falls within the proper range even after all possible issues and add-ons have been included. Time is money so get a commitment regarding timeline too. If you need to go live with the new system in three months and they estimate six, you need to look elsewhere. Quick implementation may prove just as important as affordable pricing.

What Will We Receive?

When choosing software, your primary concern is functionality. To avoid costly legal troubles and embarrassing media attention, security should be the next priority. However, there is much more to it than that; the purchase will include more than a box to click and an install wizard. Professional installation on all hardware, user training and post-installation support are essential to successful implementation of any new IT system. No matter how sophisticated any aspect of technology is today, there will be a more robust version tomorrow, so obtain a guarantee of updates, patches and upgrades that will keep your firm current.

What Happens Next?

Companies have to be flexible enough to scale up, specialize, diversify, adapt and grow. Make sure the software will expand to accommodate the most likely eventualities. Read the fine print in all agreements and be aware what will happen if the firm transfers to another provider.

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