Spending money and time on software is a big decision. Many buyers worry that they will make the wrong decision because this is such a large investment.
If you’re new to purchasing software, you might wonder what to consider before making a purchase. The following are some essentials you should keep in mind before diving into the details.
In an effort to discover what they wish they knew before their purchase, we talked to other experienced software buyers who have been there before. Some shared their biggest regrets (and how to avoid them). The following is what they said.
1. Determine the level of customer support you will need after the purchase
Founder and CEO of TechLoris (a blog dedicated to computer problems), Shannon Sherman, says, “Not everyone is going to offer tech support. One of the ways a company cuts cost is through offering a product sans service support … chances are you’ll run into a problem you aren’t prepared to deal with and if support isn’t built-in, you’ll have to pay extra for that. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just get the more expensive software?”
Vendors of software provide a variety of customer service options, from conversations with real people to online self-service forums.
Several vendors offer a full range of customer service options, whereas others charge additional fees for varying levels of service.
As soon as you own the software, you’ll need customer support.
Make sure vendors give options that meet your budget and provide good customer service before you buy.
Read our software reviews to find out how others have had experiences with a particular vendor’s customer service. Look for comments and ratings regarding the quality of the service.
2. Know the total ownership costs prior to purchase
According to Andrew Elhert at Maine Marketing Association, “We were fine paying the initial monthly fee, but we soon realized we would have to pay even more every month for many different features and to have our entire team using the software.
Although you may already be aware of the base sales price of your software, do you know the cost of additional add-ons, integrations, service contracts, and other costs that arise during the process of purchasing the software?
Calculate the total cost of ownership. Included in that is the cost of obtaining, installing, and maintaining the software.
Find out what is included in each price tier, and what features or services (such as customer support or installation) are extra.
Some vendors provide discounts if you pay annually (instead of monthly) or if you’re a nonprofit, so ask about ways to reduce costs.
Calculate the total cost of ownership for the software and determine whether you’re willing to adjust your budget to find the right fit.
3. Allow extra time for software setup
Elhert also said: “When you see a demo for a software [product] the company makes it seem so easy to set up and to use, but this typically isn’t the case. With [new software we purchased] we were told the setup would be quick and easy for our team. However, this wasn’t true. We ended up spending weeks to get the entire platform set up correctly, and it was an overall difficult process.”
Even though setting up software may sound simple, it’s often more difficult than it appears. You need to budget time to get adjusted to a new system regardless of whether the software you’re getting is cloud-based or on-premise.
Asking the vendor what support they provide for installation, training, and onboarding can assist you in overcoming this obstacle.
Factor in any extra charges for these services into the total cost of ownership.
You’ll likely need the expertise of your IT department when setting up the new software, so include them in the discussion of installation and training.
Don’t forget to budget time for your team to learn the new software. The process of adjusting to a new system takes time, even if training is excellent. You should adapt short-term expectations to reflect the fact that there will be a learning curve.
4. Cut off ties with vendors when needed
Ben Walker, CEO and founder of Transcription Outsourcing, said, “We’ve [bought] software that we eventually [found] out is way overpriced or doesn’t do as much as one of their competitors in the same space for the same price. Know all the options, know all the prices for every add-on before committing, and know-how you have to notify them if you will not be renewing.”
When people buy software for the first time, they often regret their decision. You should not give up hope if your team cannot effectively implement a particular software product due to its higher price, difficulty to deploy, or ambiguous nature.
In the end, software you choose is likely to do most of what you need even if it’s not the perfect fit. Your understanding of what you need has now improved.
Suppose you decide to switch software providers, you’ll have more experience to take with you.
By knowing your software needs and having experience with the purchasing process, you’ll be more likely to find a good option the next time around.
Find out what others have learned about the software-purchasing process
Your professional network may be able to provide you with advice on software purchasing. Whether it is colleagues from your own company, peers in your industry, or friends in other lines of work, it can be very instructive to hear what other people have experienced (or not experienced).
Read our software reviews to learn more about software:
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