How to choose the right software

Do you really know how to tell which vendor will be with you for the long haul and for the right reasons?

How do you choose the right software (or app) for your organisation? How do you sort through the sales hype? And how can you tell which vendor will be with you for the long haul and which will disappear after the sale? These are just some of the questions executives face when evaluating technology solutions to business problems.

So how do you choose the right software solution--and vendor—for your organisation's specific challenge? We asked dozens of IT executives to find some answers. Following are their eight suggestions regarding what questions to ask and how to figure out which vendor and solution best fit your needs.

1. Figure out what it is you really need:"Know what you want first," says Steven A. Lowe, the founder/CEO of Innovator , a custom software consulting and development company. "If you know what you want, ideally separated into a must-have list and a nice-to-have list, it will be much easier to figure out if any given solution fits your business--and to resist 'shiny' things."

"The most important to do is to gather accurate, thorough requirements for what's needed in the software," says Andrea Palten, vice-president of marketing and sales at Enfocus Solutions, a requirements management solutions provider. "The solution must align with the goals of the business and must meet the needs of the stakeholders." Therefore, it's critical to determine the business requirements before you start interviewing software vendors.

2. Check the software provider's credentials and certificates: When evaluating software vendors and technology partners look into their background, says Herb Hogue, senior vice-president, professional services & engineering, En Pointe Technologies, an IT solution provider. "How long have they been in business? Are they growing or downsizing?"

It's also important to "look for strong capabilities and credibility," Hogue says. "Do they have partner certifications relevant to the solution(s) you are looking to implement? Do they have an engineering team to focus on product/solution development?"

3. What do other customers have to say? "Ask vendors for references in your industry," says Jennifer Walzer, CEO of BUMI, a provider of managed online backup and recovery solutions. "Happy clients will gladly share their experiences with you."

When speaking or emailing with customers, be sure to ask: "How long have they been a client? How has this provider addressed their specific needs as a company doing business in their specific industry? Is the customer service team responsive and knowledgeable?" In addition, Walzer advises searching the Web for reviews, both positive and negative, of the provider.

4. Can it scale? "CIOs should ask about and understand the level of customisation and scalability a software solution offers," states Malcolm Cowley, CEO of the Performance Horizon Group, which provides a global marketing platform. "As companies expand into new markets [or grow], their software should be able to scale accordingly," he says.

"The last thing CIOs and other technology decision-makers want to be faced with is the need to re-evaluate and invest in a new solution two or three years down the road, when the existing system can't handle the company's emerging needs," Cowley says.

5. Check for hidden or additional fees: "Look for hidden costs in the contract, such as additional fees for in-person training, document management services, set-up or annual maintenance fees in addition to the monthly support costs," advises Kirk Treasure, vice-president of sales, Meditab , the creator and developer of intelligent medical software.

6. Who gets custody of your data in the case of divorce? "It's a fact of life that even if you love your vendor, someday you may need to leave them," says Jon Lincoln, who specialises in business development at etfile, a provider of custom integrated electronic document imaging, filing and retrieval systems.

"Some vendors try shady tactics by holding your data hostage (as if they own it!) or charge an exorbitant amount to sway you from leaving," Lincoln says. So before you licence any software, "ask the vendor what happens if you leave and how you would get your data back. Expect to pay something, especially if the data was encrypted, but it shouldn't break the bank."

7. Take a test drive: "Before committing to a new software solution, be sure to kick the tyres," says Catherine Brown, vice-president of marketing, Mavenlink, a provider of project management software. "Most SaaS companies offer a free trial to test features, benefits and usability," she says.

Then, during the trial, make sure the software contains the features you need, as well as the functionality. And don't be afraid to ask the vendor questions. "You'll want to make sure it's a perfect fit for your company over the long haul," Brown says.

8. Agree to key performance indicators (KPIs) before signing a contract: "Work with your potential software providers to create key performance indicators (KPIs) prior to signing any contracts," advises Anket Naik, vice-president, Cloud Operations and Integrations at Coupa, a developer of procurement software.

"By putting KPIs in place upfront, both parties will know what needs to transpire to make the software implementation a success. A successful implementation will lead to a trusted partnership between the CIO and software provider that can last a lifetime," says Naik.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Launch marketing council Episode 5: Retailer and supplier

In our fifth and final episode, we delve into the relationship between retailer and supplier and how it drives and influences launch marketing strategies and success. To do that, we’re joined by Campbell Davies, group general manager of Associated Retailers Limited, and Kristin Viccars, marketing director A/NZ, Apex Tool Group. Also featured are Five by Five Global managing director, Matt Lawton, and CMO’s Nadia Cameron.

More Videos

The best part: optimizing your site for SEO enables you to generate high traffic, and hence free B2B lead generation. This is done throug...

Sergiu Alexei

The top 6 content challenges facing B2B firms

Read more

Nowadays, when everything is being done online, it is good to know that someone is trying to make an improvement. As a company, you are o...

Marcus

10 lessons Telstra has learnt through its T22 transformation

Read more

Check out tiny twig for comfy and soft organic baby clothes.

Morgan mendoza

Binge and The Iconic launch Inactivewear clothing line

Read more

NetSuite started out as a cloud-based provider of Enterprise Resource Planning software or as NetSuite solution provider, which companies...

talalyousaf

NetSuite to acquire Bronto's digital marketing platform for US$200m

Read more

Thanks for sharing this post, its really good information I get through this blog.CDPO Online Exam Training

Infosectrain01

3 ways Booking.com is improving its B2B marketing game

Read more

Blog Posts

Getting privacy right in a first-party data world

With continued advances in marketing technology, data privacy continues to play catchup in terms of regulation, safety and use. The laws that do exist are open to interpretation and potential misuse and that has led to consumer mistrust and increasing calls for a stronger regulatory framework to protect personal information.

Furqan Wasif

Head of biddable media, Tug

​Beyond greenwashing: Why brands need to get their house in order first

Environmental, Social and (Corporate) Governance is a hot topic for brands right now. But before you start thinking about doing good, Craig Flanders says you best sort out the basics.

Craig Flanders

CEO, Spinach

​The value of collaboration: how to keep it together

Through the ages, from the fields to the factories to the office towers and now to our kitchen tables, collaboration has played a pivotal role in how we live and work. Together. We find partners, live as families, socialise in groups and work as teams. Ultimately, we rely on these collaborative structures to survive and thrive.

Rich Curtis

CEO, FutureBrand A/NZ

Sign in