Choosing a software vendor can be one of the most important decisions you make in your IT business. Whether you’re choosing a small support software or a company that’s going to be the backbone of your business, it’s important to put a lot of care into the selection process.
Finding the Right Software Vendor
There are many important steps and considerations you should make to ensure that you make the best possible decision for your IT business. Here are some of the most essential tips to keep in mind.
Nail Down Your Processes
Any software you choose needs to actually fit with your business, not the other way around. Whether you’re looking to support help desk operations or perform other business functions, you need to carefully evaluate what it is you need and make sure that any software you consider matches with your existing processes.
Dan Goldstein, director of marketing for GMS Live Expert, a 24/7 Outsourced Help Desk and NOC for MSPs, said in an email interview with Small Business Trends, “From a help desk perspective, be sure that the workflows and pricing matrix matches with process design and contracts.”
Talk to Stakeholders
It’s also important that you gather input from others who might be impacted by your vendor selection. Talk to team members, investors or end users to find out what features are important and what they want to see from a software vendor. Make a list and prioritize which items are most important so you go into your search knowing exactly what’s important.
Talk to Potential Vendors
Researching vendors isn’t just about perusing some websites. You’re not just making a one-time purchase, so it’s important to really dig deep into each company. Contact them to get all of your questions answered and see specifically what they can offer your company before making a commitment.
Try the Technology
In many cases, vendors will even offer you a free trial so you can see the software in action before buying. If this isn’t possible, see if they can walk you through a demo or otherwise show you what the product can do.
Look into the Company
Aside from the features of the software itself, you should consider support and the reputation of the company. See if you can access any reviews or testimonials. Find out how long the company has been in business. And find out what type of support options they provide to users.
Look at All Costs
Software contracts can sometimes be a bit complicated. So when you’re comparing costs, make sure you include any extra fees that aren’t included in the main bundle. See if there are one-time or recurring costs that could impact the overall investment.
Negotiate a Contract
If you’re going to have an ongoing relationship with a company, it may be possible to negotiate a contract rather than just purchasing at a given rate. Speak with the vendor rep to see what type of rate is possible and try to get the best possible deal for your business without going unrealistically low.
Then it’s time to actually implement the software across your business. Your vendor should have some kind of support to help you get up and running or potentially even train your team to make the most of the tool. Take some time in this step to make sure all stakeholders are comfortable with the product before moving forward.
You should be in regular contact with your vendor and monitor how they support you when issues pop up.
Goldstein says, “At one point or another an issue will arise, how your partner deals with it can make all the difference and is in many cases worth a percentage point or two in margin.”
Evaluate the Software Periodically
From there, you should continuously evaluate the relationship and make sure the vendor is still the right fit for your business. Over time, the technology or your needs may change, so be sure to measure results and effectiveness so you can switch things up if it ever becomes necessary.
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