The software sector is currently more competitive than it’s ever been. This is a buyer’s market. But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy market. How does your business decide which software company is right for its needs?
Imagine you’re choosing a new business partner – arguably the most significant decision you’ll ever take. Think of the time, trouble and expense you’ll incur to find that partner. Your software is no different. It’s the ‘engine’ of your business – a vital component without which you can’t operate. Choosing the right engine is a decision you can’t afford to get wrong.
Faced with several candidates for the job, here are just some of the questions you need to be asking them -
What kind of software am I looking for? What tasks do I need it to perform?
You need to be 100% clear in your mind about the answers to these two . If you’re to have meaningful discussions with software providers, they need to know precisely about the brief. They need to know what role their software service is supposed to fulfil and what challenges it is intended to overcome
What kind of company am I dealing with?
Whichever company you choose, it must be one you can relate to. The relationship you share will be a long-term one. For it to be fruitful, they will have to understand your business and vice versa. Look at your prospective provider carefully. What about their mission – their vision? Do they share your business outlook? Look at their ‘why’. Why are they in business, and what ethos drives them? If you can see a clear synergy between the two of you, then there’s every chance of a successful business relationship.
What about their experience and expertise?
How long has the company been established? What about their experience of and expertise in your precise sector? What about the skillsets of the key players in the business? Can they demonstrate that they’ve got what it takes to deliver the software that your business demands – not some off-the-shelf approximation, but the exact model that you need to make your business function effectively?
How flexible are they? How willing are they to adapt to your needs?
This links to the last question. Does your prospective provider have the business intelligence
(a) to educate you about the benefits of their product?
(b) to adapt their product to the functionality that your business demands?
Every business is unique. Every business has individual goals and challenges. You need to understand the tools and techniques that the provider will be using to analyse your needs and to create the ideal bespoke solution.
How about after-sales?
We've already discussed the long-term nature of the relationship. How will this work in practice? What about training provision? How will they communicate with your people? What are their response times? What about upgrades? You need clear answers to each of these questions.
What do others say?
You need to look beyond the sales pitches of your potential providers. You need to find out what others think. Testimonials are an obvious option – preferably video testimonials, which, unlike written ones, can’t be faked. Better still, talk to other clients in your sector abut the quality of the product, its provision and the after-sales service.
Consider too social proof. Check out the company’s LinkedIn page and its key worker LinkedIn profiles. How do they engage with the social platform? What do these profiles and engagement stell you about the company ethos?
Should you be looking for an off-shore or an on-shore partner?
Off-shore partners used to be a big no-no. Their reputation for unreliability would be enough to put you off. This is much less the case now. Provided you can satisfy yourself that all these questions can be answered satisfactorily, you should keep the option open.
What about the size of the company?
Size does matter. You need to look carefully at the size of your prospective providers. Are they big enough to deliver what you need? Will they be able to grow as you grow? But also ask yourself – they may be a big enough company but are they small enough to care?
What about certification?
Take a look at their measures of quality assurance - ISO / Awards etc. These will be reliable indicators of competence and suitability for your project.
How do their prices compare?
Price – a key factor but not the most important. You know the old saying – ‘buy cheap, buy twice’. Don’t think of cost. Think of value. Be clear about precisely what you will receive for the price you’re being quoted.
Yes – when it comes to choosing the right software partner, there are plenty of questions to be answered. But this is a long-term investment for your business. You won’t always get the decision right. However, answer these questions to your satisfaction and you massively increase your chances of a sound decision and a successful partnership.
Talk to the software specialists
Web Alliance Limited is long established as one of the UK’s foremost providers of adaptable, bespoke software providers. Working with businesses of all sizes, we enjoy a growing reputation for innovation, flexibility and expertise, supported by unrivalled, world-class customer service.
Do you need bespoke software to run your business engine? Maybe you’re unsure as to what you need to help your business run at it most efficient. That’s OK. Pick up theb phone. Let’s talk. Afterall, we’re here to help.
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