Over the years being in tech, I’ve watched businesses determined to keep pace with the intense demands of the global market undergo tremendous pressure to automate and use digital products to streamline operations. However, the wrong decision on vendor and software alike can completely ruin an operation and cause immense damage to reputation and brand.
Fast Growth Vs Planned Growth
Many businesses today live in a “boom or bust” frame of mind mainly because of the perception that competitors are waiting in the shadows to grab any and every opportunity to advance. This has led to many decisions that challenge sustained growth.
Choosing a software vendor to handle your automation needs has to be done with utmost care and diligence. A few examples of major software blunders are the One Penny Christmas Glitch of Amazon (2014), SystmOne (UK National Health Service), and Midas (Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency) which resulted in over 200,000 individuals being accused of fraud.
With thousands of software companies and an undetermined number of software developers working under the radar it becomes difficult to find the software that will be a perfect fit. According to PC Review, software is a tough market because not every vendor will make the supreme sacrifice to ensure that their product is optimized, detailed, and well-researched because they want to push it out as soon as possible and move on.
Here are the 5 critical keys to know when selecting your software vendor:
First, know your vendor. Before you choose your software vendor, get to know the people behind the product. Can they fix issues quickly? Are they working as a team? Do you like their attitude? Are their work ethics similar to yours? What are their credentials? Does their software comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? What are the chances they can hold your company hostage should you decide to go to a competitor? Buying software is not a one-shot deal. You will have to work with the supplier as your business grows and new challenges pop up.
Never base your selection on a software checklist. That’s the easy way out – and also the costliest. The vendor is someone who will gain access to the inner sanctum of your business operations. Know who you are entrusting the keys of your business to. Also, request for a detailed accounting of the software costs because many companies tend to have hidden fees that only crop up in the billing.
Second, rely on industry experts. If this is your first time to automate, go over the manual procedures with a fine-toothed comb, and be sure to include key users in those discussions. If possible, consult with trustworthy industry experts about automation especially those who have gone down the road you are about to embark on. This way, the software vendor is given all possible scenarios (including scalability) to work with and can avoid glitches and issues with the system. In addition, be sure that you appoint the right person to handle your project and key communications with the software vendor. You can read more about the 7 Traits of an Exceptional Software Project Manager to ensure a successful outcome.
Third, study the analytics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Be specific about your needs and prioritize reliable reporting tools otherwise you won’t have a clue until it’s too late that there is a problem. When selecting a vendor, do they have their own analytics platform to mine data, or do you need to use a third party that would ultimately add more license fees and complicate access to your data? Is the data easily accessible, or do you need to rely on the vendor to pull reports for you? Reporting tools should go beyond the basics and be easy to understand and use. If necessary, you should be able to incorporate other layers of protection, security, usability, that would make it difficult for anyone to access illegally.
Fourth, is it mobile and responsive? Consumers are using their mobile gadgets more than desktops. To reach markets, you have to adapt to different screen sizes and ensure that any software you buy is responsive and intuitive. In addition, the web version, at the very least, should load within the average 19 seconds using 3G – or you risk abandonment.
Fifth, what’s the guarantee on support and training? Software vendors must consistently show patience, dedication, and resourcefulness in providing support and training. When selecting a software vendor, ask if they provide a warranty on work. This is the one instance when you have to demand and expect 100% from the vendor. At Indigo, our clients rave about the support and training they receive because we are extremely responsive, don’t waste time or rush through training sessions. Our highly trained and respectful support and training staff can address all kinds of challenges and situations.
At Indigo, our commitment to our business clients is supreme and this has developed into friendly professional relationships that steps beyond business concerns. As our client, your issues are our issues – and we work to resolve them – together.
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