When running a business, you will often find yourself in need of new software tools to enhance the productivity, efficiency, effectiveness, and even the security of your various business processes. These software programs range across a wide spectrum of tools including accounting, finance, IT, e-commerce, marketing, sales, and many more. In this blog post, we discuss the key elements you should consider before investing in software tools for your business
- Whose software is it, anyway? Learn more about the company that owns the software. Find out how long they have been in the business. Are they dealing in similar software programs across different industries, or is this their only product? Get more information about their company size and business model. How do they sell? What kind of after-sales support do they offer in terms of training, troubleshooting, and product updates? You need to have answers to all these questions. This is especially important if you are investing a considerable amount of money in the software tool. You don’t want to purchase something that may be outdated or produced by a small operation that goes out of business in a couple of months leaving you with no updates or support. Plus, the most important thing, you need to be able to trust the software vendor with your data.
- What’s the market saying? Never make impulse purchases when it comes to business software. Check out online reviews, get to know from peers who have used the product/ similar products, and even ask your software vendor for references and testimonials. Third-party sites like G2Crowd, Capterra, Software Review, etc, are some good examples of neutral software review sites. Though some of these do have incentivized review programs, for the most part, they appear to be pretty reliable.
- Ask for a free trial: Ask your vendor if they can arrange a free-trial or sandbox version of the product for your team to play with for a while before making the decision. This will help you get familiar with the product and then decide if it is worth signing up for in the long run.
- How much will you be actually paying? Understand how much you will end up paying finally for using the software to its fullest potential. There are various kinds of pricing models. You may have to pay per user, per device or you may be offered tiered pricing where certain features of the product are made available to you only upon subscribing to a higher tier. So, while the starting price of such software programs may be in single or double digits, to actually be able to put it to good use may end up costing you thousands of dollars!
- Flexibility: How well does the software fit into your current business process. Remember, you are buying the software to make your existing process more efficient. If your process is already set and working optimally, you shouldn’t have to make any drastic changes to fit the software into it. Instead, it should make your process even smoother without causing any disruption. Secondly, let’s say you find it not to be a good fit for you. How easy will it be for you to get out of it in such an instance? Do you end up paying a penalty for early termination of the contract? This may be especially the case where it is a SaaS agreement.
Whether you are buying from a value-added reseller (VAR) or a software manufacturer directly, these are some of the elements you need to look into before investing in any business software. However, if you are like most business owners, then you’d probably be too busy to look into all these details. That’s where a trusted MSP can help you. They can recommend the right software based on your needs and also do the necessary due diligence for you before you make the purchase.
How can Xterra help my business?
Xterra has developed the people, process, and technology to deliver white glove IT services for a fraction of the cost of hiring a full-time staff. We are focused on helping San Francisco Bay Area clients accelerate their adoption of technology solutions to create measurable business value. If you are interested in learning more about how Xterra can help your business, schedule a free consultation.
Aaron is a Partner and Principal Network Architect at Xterra Solutions, Inc. With over 20 years experience, Aaron’s practice areas include security, networking, unified communications, and business continuity. Xterra is a leading managed services provider located in downtown San Francisco.