How To Buy Enterprise Software (Without Getting Scr3w3d) - Blog #3 in Series of 4
Watch Out For Software Scams
We continue here with our in-depth look at how to purchase enterprise software for your business. Here we will cover product demonstrations, interviewing customers, and looking at the big picture in terms of overall cost.
Take Control of Product Demonstrations
Provide the vendors with a task you need their software to accomplish. Be specific. That way, you will not be snowed by generic product demos used as if “one-size-fits-all” companies and needs. Beware of how companies often present what are little more than advertisements, rather than purposeful, specific demos. They often use time-worn scripts and only point out the strengths of their software, ignoring any defects.
To learn how long it takes to configure the software system, give the vendor a short time period in which to create your specific demonstration. In this way you will see how the vendor performs under the gun in terms of efficiency, adaptability, flexibility, etc.
Then, during the demonstration, request a change in the implementation. Here again, you are looking for adaptability and flexibility. You can warn the vendor in advance that you will be requesting a change, but don’t let them know exactly what the change will be.
The demo is also a great opportunity to learn about the communication and work skills of the vendors. Relationships are critical and you want a positive one with your vendor. Make certain that the people doing your demo will be the same people you would be working with if you hire this vendor, and make sure these people are experts in your area of need. The quality of the consulting and support are as critical as the quality of the software.
Ask The Vendors’ Customers What They Think Of The Product
Any online testimonials from supposed customers about a product should be ignored. Such testimonials are not necessarily real, and at any rate, they are taken out of context and framed to seem ideal.
If you can locate real customers of the vendor yourself, do so. If not, you can ask the vendor to give you names of their customers. In any event, make sure the customers had similar enterprise software needs to your own.
Make sure the customer feels free to speak truthfully – let them know that you are considering different vendors and that their advice will not make or break your decision to go with a particular vendor.
Cost: Look At The Big Picture
Do not fall for vendor tricks to make you think the software package will be cheaper than it actually is. Often vendors will not give you the complete picture over time of what the entire software implementation will cost, including ongoing consultations. A car salesman likes to keep tacking on hidden costs, and so does a software vendor.
The cost of the software is often not even the dominant factor in the total ownership cost. There are additional expenses. These include implementing the software as well as calibrating it and adjusting it over time to suit your company’s needs. Training your staff to use the software through the years is also a notable expense.
Stay on your toes to make sure you don’t end up paying through the nose. The next blog in this series will discuss tricks vendors use to disguise overall costs of enterprise software. Wait ‘til you see what we found out…