If you’re running a business and you need to select a new software solution, then it’s time to get serious. You can’t just go with whatever solution is easiest or cheapest. This is a critical decision that will impact your business for years to come. In order to make the right choice, you must weigh all of the factors involved in selecting a new software solution. Here are 13 questions you should ask yourself before you decide on a new software solutions:
1. Does it meet your immediate requirements?
As a business owner, you always want to make sure that your software meets all of your immediate needs. You don’t want to get stuck with a product that doesn’t allow you to do what you need right now. This is why it’s so important to ask this question when interviewing providers or reviewing demos.
What are your immediate requirements?
Before asking the first question, think about what exactly you want out of a software solution and put it into words for yourself. Ask yourself: “In three months from now, what will be my most important task?” And then: “How can [the provider] help me accomplish this task?” By asking these questions internally before beginning the interview process (or demo review), it’ll be easier for both parties involved in the conversation because they’ll both know exactly where they’re going with each other at all times.
2. What are the long-term costs?
When you’re deciding on a new software solution, it’s important to consider all of the costs that go into maintaining and supporting your system. There are many factors that will impact your long-term costs.
- Maintenance – Does the vendor offer maintenance contracts? What’s included in this contract? What fees are associated with upgrading or migrating the system?
- Support – How much will it cost to keep your employees trained on this new system, as well as any additional training resources you may need if some of their roles change? Will there be additional consulting fees for ongoing support needs after deployment?
- Deployment – Do they have an experienced team in place who can deploy and customize their solution so that it fits seamlessly into your business processes (and not just in terms of its features)? If not, how much is outsourcing this project going to cost?
3. What is the solution’s compatibility with your other systems?
When selecting a new software solution, it’s important to verify that the solution is compatible with your existing systems. If the new product isn’t compatible with your current system, you may need to upgrade or replace that system as well. While this may seem like a good idea on paper (you want to update all of your technology), it can be costly and time consuming. In addition, if this is a problem within your organization, then chances are that other departments are also facing compatibility issues which means there could be some serious headaches ahead for everyone involved.
By asking the right questions before selecting a new software solution, you can avoid these problems altogether and make sure everything runs smoothly when implementing new solutions in your business.
4. What are the previous bugs and client complaints?
Another important question is what the previous bugs and client complaints have been. How did they respond? Did they fix it? If so, how long did it take to fix each bug? Do they have any plans to fix these issues in the future? These questions will help you understand how the vendor responds when something goes wrong, which can be a good predictor of how well they will work with you in the future.
5. How will you perform upgrades?
When you’re looking for a new software solution, it can be difficult to know what to look for. There are many different factors to consider, and even though you may want the best of everything, that might not be possible. The good news is that the basics are fairly straightforward: if your chosen solution has all these qualities, then you can be confident in its ability to meet your needs going forward.
6. Does it resolve all the problems you have with your current solution?
It’s important to consider whether the software you select will resolve all of your business needs and problems. If you are switching from one problematic solution to another, then it is likely that both solutions have similar issues. In this case, you will have to deal with bugs and issues in order to get things running smoothly.
Your staff will also need training on how the new system works if it is significantly different from what they currently use. This can be a time-consuming process for everyone involved, so make sure that the software does indeed solve all of your problems before making the switch!
7. Do you need to maintain a skillset for support?
You need to consider how much time you will need to dedicate to support in the long run. Do you have any internal staff who can take on some of this responsibility? Will you be hiring a third party for support? How much experience do they have with the software solution?
Is there a learning curve for new users? How quickly can they ramp up using it, and how often do they need training sessions. Can they utilize online tutorials and other resources while utilizing the software or will they require hands-on training from an expert?
How many hours per day does it take them to learn about all of the features that are available within their software solution before being able to use them effectively on a daily basis (such as customer service)?
8. Can you migrate to a new solution?
Migration from one solution to another is a big deal. You need to ensure that you can migrate to the new solution, especially if you have existing data or assets in it. This can be difficult and time consuming, so it’s important to know what you are getting into before starting this process.
9. Does it integrate with your other solutions?
You’ll want to ask your vendor if their product is integrated with any of your other solutions. If it’s not, there’s a good chance it will be difficult to integrate in the future.
Integration can mean several things, but generally speaking it means that two applications work together seamlessly—even if they are separate programs developed by different companies. Many companies use third-party apps like Google Analytics or Salesforce because they provide greater functionality than many basic software packages do out of the box.
So if you already use one of these types of tools, you’ll want to ensure that you can easily integrate with your new software solution so that all data is recorded correctly in real time and nothing gets lost as a result of switching systems!
10. Does it meet industry standards and regulations?
It’s important to remember that when you select a software solution, it needs to be able to meet industry standards and regulations. The best way to find out if a particular solution meets industry standards and regulations is by reading the documentation for that solution. If this information isn’t available online, you should contact your vendor and ask them directly about their products’ compliance with industry best practices.
It’s also important to know if an application has been tested against industry standards because if it hasn’t been certified then there may not be enough security measures in place for your business needs.
11. How frequently does it need to be maintained?
When you purchase a new software solution, it’s important to consider how frequently the solution will need to be maintained. If you don’t maintain your software on a regular basis, it can cause problems for your business and even disrupt operations. Therefore, it is essential that you ask about maintenance plans when choosing a new software solution. In addition to asking about the frequency of maintenance required by this particular system, ask questions regarding costs associated with maintaining the system as well as what happens if there are no provisions in place for maintenance (e.g., downtime). For example:
- How often do we need to update our system?
- What is the cost of updating our system?
- What happens if we do not update our system at least once every six months?
12. Who will help with implementation?
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when selecting a new software solution is to assume that you can do it on your own. Don’t expect that because you’re familiar with the industry, or have been in IT for years, or are just generally smart and skilled at what you do; this is still an area where professionals need help.
If your current vendor offers implementation services (and they should), great! This will probably save some time and money while ensuring a solid launch. But don’t sign up for their service without first asking yourself if they’d be right for your needs—you may not want to go with them because of something as simple as geographic location or personality fit. You might also find that another company does better job at implementing what you want than anyone else does.
13. Is the vendor reliable?
If a vendor is reliable, you can expect that they will provide consistent service. This means that your software will be updated and maintained as needed, as well as any additional features or enhancements that may make the product better. In addition, it means that if an issue arises with the software (and sometimes even if there isn’t one), you can expect a quick response from the vendor’s customer support team to assist you in resolving any issues or questions you may have.
Pay attention to all of the factors involved in selecting a software solution.
There are many factors involved in selecting a software solution. To ensure that you get the best one, you should consider all of these factors. Don’t just focus on cost or on a few features. Consider the following:
- The software vendor’s reputation. A bad reputation can lead to problems down the road, so it’s important to make sure they are reputable and have a history of successful projects with other clients.
- The vendor’s ability to support your business needs over time. If their service is lacking in this area, you may end up having to switch vendors later down the line if things don’t work out with them now—and that means going through another set of headaches and costs associated with switching vendors again!
- Features included with each solution (and how useful those features really are). Some add-ons might seem attractive at first glance but ultimately prove useless after further research into their functionality (e.g., “social media integration”). A good vendor will make sure that all necessary features are included without adding unnecessary bells and whistles that aren’t useful for your business needs.
Software is not a one-time purchase. It should be a part of your company’s long-term plans, so it needs to be well thought out and considered from every angle. We hope you’ve found these questions helpful in assessing the best fit for your business needs.