Things to consider when selecting a software vendor
Businesses today need dedicated software and technology for efficient operations and growth. Whether you run a small business or a multinational corporation, you will want the workflow to be as efficient as possible. And in most cases, automation and software are what make these feasible.
Needless to say, the software you pick is crucial for your business operations. Choose wisely and your operations will be perfectly streamlined. Choose poorly and you will end up wasting resources. Thus, one of the first challenges that need to be addressed is choosing the right vendor.
But how does one choose a software vendor that is the right fit for their company? Here are some important things to consider.
Choose a vendor who has worked on similar projects
First of all, you should know what is crucial for your company’s operations. Narrow down the business software requirements by being as accurate and technical as possible. Your potential vendor’s software solution has to align with the goals of your business, as well as the needs of your team and stakeholders.
It is important to check if the vendor has completed projects similar to what you need. If yes, then onboarding, knowledge transfer, and implementation would go rather smoothly.
Opinions from the previous customers matter
Satisfied customers are always willing to share their working experience with their software vendors. Ask vendors if you could get in touch with some of their past and existing customers for references, particularly with ones in the same industry as you (we do it at DevsData when looking for a vendor).
Vendors who are eager to provide such a list should always receive positive points. When contacting their customers be sure to ask about:
How long they have worked with said vendor
How their specific software needs were addressed by the vendor’s solution
How reliable the vendor is in terms of customer service, responsiveness, and know-how
You can also always do a quick Google search of the vendor to look for reviews about him, as well as information about his way of working. Most vendors would eagerly share with you that they work with clients from all around the world. It is a good sign if a software provider has clients from different parts of the globe, as it shows his solutions are not just for localized businesses, but for global ones as well.
On the same note, it will also be good if the said vendor worked with organizations of different sizes. Startups and enterprise clients will have specific and often-varying needs and goals when it comes to software. This will also show if the vendor’s products and services are scalable or not.
Not a newcomer
When evaluating tech vendors, always look into his background, especially the years he has been working in the technology industry. This industry is constantly evolving. As such, you will want a provider that has been in the business for some time and has the insights and experience about the changing markets.
Ask how long he had been in business, and if he had been growing or downsizing. Another good indicator of their capabilities (and a boost to their credibility) is partner certifications related to the solutions they are offering. Do they have their own team focusing on product/service development and implementations? Are they just resellers who work with other providers for the implementation?
Size and reliability of their team
A common dilemma when choosing a software vendor is whether to work with a large or small company.
In many cases, big companies have the reputation but may lack agility and work at their own pace. Meanwhile, small software providers are more dynamic but may be seen as not very reliable, not only in providing strong solutions but also because of the risk of going out of business. Of course, this is not to say you do not work with either.
This is where due diligence and the clients’ testimonials come in. Verify as much as you can about a vendor you are considering: his physical location and reviews on Google Maps, his social media posts, mentions in the media, and the claims on his website. Go through his ‘About Us’ page, gallery, and even the photos of the team, office, and events to give you an idea of his workplace and work process.
If the company is based in the US, do they have grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements with the NSF or SBIR? Do they have a nearby office or representatives that you can easily get in touch with if you have concerns?
These checks will help you determine how reputable the software vendor is.
How the business relationship is started and nurtured
Your software vendor should double up as a partner for success. He should be a problem-solver, not just a seller. Both parties should be able to get great value from the partnership.
Ask the potential vendor how he handles financial information, other sensitive data, and GDPR and PIPEDA compliance. Your company data, workflow, and clients are sensitive and should be managed with utmost privacy and security.
Moreover, ask what happens to your data if you decide to part ways and how difficult it would be to migrate your processes and information to another system. The vendor will try to win you back but if you are firm in your decision, he would also be willing to help with your transition.
Transparency should also not be overlooked. From a financial point of view, make sure to account for additional fees that may not have been included in the main package. Check also if there are one-time or recurring costs that could drive up your budget.
Do not just focus on the technology solutions of the vendor. Successful software operations will always depend on humans, too. As such, you should also look into his non-tech operations.
Does he have strong UX specialists, graphic designers, and dedicated QA professionals who are ready to provide support in the different aspects of tech implementation and management? A software vendor with reliable marketing operations will be quick to augment and scale his solutions to fit your needs.
Does he have experience with dirty, real-world software projects? Does he have experience in data processing, web scraping, spreadsheet programs, data visualization, analysis, and other processes? The answers to these questions will help you greatly in choosing the right vendor for your organization.
Finally, when choosing the right software vendor, always keep your mind open. As long as you do your homework and due diligence, finding a provider that perfectly fits your needs will not be as daunting as you think it is.
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