Choosing an application vendor can be a long process. There is a lot to consider when investing a considerable amount in a technology that should help increase your bottom line. Having all of your ducks in a row is a good first step to this process. GadellNet wants to make sure you are prepared for the task. Consider these 10 factors as you enter the application vendor selection process.
1. Know your budget
In any given application space, costs may range from hundreds of dollars per year to hundreds of thousands per year. 100% of the time that goes into a software selection engagement could be wasted if you’re headed down the wrong path from the start. Make sure you are willing to bear the burden of the investment necessary before evaluating potential opt.
2. Understand what it takes
Most often, we wait until a task or process has gotten to a breaking point before deciding that technology is a potential solution. Don’t fall into the ‘We needed this yesterday!’ trap. Spend the time to thoroughly evaluate and the select the best solution. Rushing a new solution without performing due diligence is likely to end up costing more in the planning and implementation phases. In the end, you may end up with a failed project on your hands if you don’t prepare appropriately.
3. Identify the correct resources
While executives are often the decision makers in this type of process, they are unlikely to be the most knowledgeable about the day-to-day tasks that keep your business running. Find the people that know critical business processes inside and out. Ask them to show you how they perform critical tasks. It takes input from all parties to get the requirements correct.
4. Keep an open mind for your own business processes
Many applications and tools have built-in best practice workflows. Be open to change, otherwise you may end up automating bad practices. “We’ve always done it that way…” as a reason for a process or procedure usually means that you haven’t taken the appropriate time to understand what you can be doing. Take a critical eye to existing processes and see this as an opportunity to improve efficiency.
5. Level the playing field
Make sure you share the same information with all potential vendors. Failing to do so may introduce an unfair advantage and sway your decision. Get the full facts from all candidates. In the long run, that will only help you. You will have all of the facts and peace of mind that no stone was left unturned during this selection process.
6. Ask tough questions
Let’s face it, you’re making a big investment. Once you understand your needs make sure potential vendors are willing to dig in deep and answer questions. If they can’t make you comfortable now, imagine how users will feel at go-live.
7. Schedule demos
Don’t take, ‘Our software can do that’ for an answer. Make sure software providers can show you the functionality you need. Software demos will not only force vendors to walk the walk but will likely uncover additional features you were unaware of. Through this demo process, you could also come up with more questions you would like answered to better understand each vendors offering.
8. Measure ease of use
It’s easy to objectively compare software and rank features on a 1-10 scale. When all else is equal, usability will separate applications. If potential vendors offer hands-on demo periods take advantage of those. If not, ask for a free evaluation period. There is a reason car dealers offer a test drive. If these companies are confident in their product, they should have no qualms about offering you the chance to test drive their software.
9. Compromise or Invest. Be willing to do one or the other.
It’s unlikely that you will find an application that fits 100% of your needs out of the box. This will leave you with two options – 1) compromise functionality or 2) invest to build functionality through customization. Either one may be the correct answer depending on your situation. Be prepared to face this decision.
10. Engage a 3rd party specialist
Unless your requirements are very simple, it is wise to engage a 3rd party versed in technology. This outside party will objectively compare functionality, cost, and fit for business while guiding you through each step of the process. This will also allow you to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
GadellNet is an award-winning IT consulting firm that provides full-service technology solutions to small businesses. Since 2003, we have been delivering efficient, profitable and happier workforces. GadellNet’s best-in-class engineering team is highly successful at implementing and maintaining value-add hardware and software technology.