So your business has decided to upgrade its software systems… With so many options out in the marketplace, how can you be sure you’re making the right decision for your business? At clixifix® this is something we’re quite familiar with so we thought we’d share some suggestions to help in your decision making process.
Figure out what it is you really need.
Understanding exactly what functionality you need in order to achieve your business goals should be the very first thing you do before speaking with any vendors. We suggest categorising different features and functions into ‘must have’, ‘nice to have’ and ‘bells and whistles’. This way, when speaking to vendors, you can easily exclude any that don’t meet your requirements and more effectively compare multiple solutions.
It’s also important to have a budget in mind as software can cost anywhere between £50 per month and millions of pounds per year. Having a budget and sticking to it will also help whittle down your pool of vendors allowing you to find the right vendor for you.
Check the software provider’s credentials and certificates.
When looking at potential software vendors, it’s important to look at their background. Are they a specialist provider with experience in your industry? Or do they offer a wide range of solutions for a number of industries? Further to this, you should also look at the vendor as a business. How long have they been operating? Is there continual growth within the company or are they downsizing?
When purchasing software, you will want to make sure that the vendor is with you on every step of your journey. At some point, you’ll need some support so make sure you’re partnering with a solid business with a bright future.
You may also want to enquire about the level of technical support the business has. Do they have an on-site tech team? Are they continuing to develop the software releasing new features or updates?
Do they offer a trial?
Many software vendors (especially software-as-a-service vendors) offer free trials of their software so that potential users can see the product in action and experience what it’s actually like to use the system on a daily basis.
Often, a demonstration of the product isn’t enough to make an educated decision as the sales representative is keen to show you the key ingredients but may skip over some of the more troublesome aspects of the software.
By putting the software to use using actual business processes that you use on a daily basis, you’re more likely to discover how the software handles the intricacies of your business. During this trial period, we recommend asking the vendor any questions you may have prior to purchase as there may be a missing function you require that is in development or soon to be released.
What do other customers have to say?
Nobody knows the software better than those that use it regularly. Satisfied customers will be happy to provide an honest account of how the software has benefitted them and their business. Does the vendor have a list of current customers on their website? Have they published any testimonials from clients?
When reading customer feedback, make sure there is specific mentions of how the software has addressed specific needs outlined by the client. You should also be looking to see if there are businesses in their client list similar to your own. For example, a solution that is perfect for a company with 10,000 employees may not be appropriate for a business with 50 employees.
It may be that the software can be effective for companies of any size. If this is the case, look for a diverse range of companies on their client list. Do Enterprise customers talk about them the same way as SMEs?
Protect your data
In an ideal world, you would engage a vendor and be with them for the life of your business. Unfortunately we don’t live in an ideal world and there is a chance that it won’t work out and you’ll have to part ways. In this situation, it’s important that you’re aware of the vendor’s policy with regards to your data.
It has been reported that some vendors sneak clauses into user agreements that effectively hold your data to ransom and charge you a fee to retrieve it should you decide to part ways. This tactic may sway some from parting ways but it is not something we at clixifix endorse. It pays to be cautious. Simply asking the vendor what their policy is regarding data and how you retrieve it should you choose to leave will give you some insight into how they treat their customers. In some cases (if the data is encrypted for example) there may be a fee attached to data retrieval but it should be minimal.
We hope that these tips are helpful in your search for a software vendor. At clixifix® we’re committed to providing the best possible customer care solution to our customers. Should you wish to learn more about the clixifix® platform, we encourage you to watch the short introductory video below and submit a contact request via our website.