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Five tips for choosing a software vendor

We have spoken before about what to look for when choosing your accounting software; but let’s take that one step further and look at what you should be looking for in a vendor.

Here are a few tips on things to look out for when selecting a vendor.

1. The initial financial outlay is not the Total Cost of Ownership

The vendors should include all costs transparently in the initial quote, so that you are not blindsided by sudden additional amounts for experts needed for implementation and integration, training, monthly support, call out costs or upgrades, to name just a few. When evaluating your Total Cost of Ownership, you need to look beyond your initial financial outlay and add any ongoing costs over a set period of time, say five years.  

2. Case Studies and references

A solid vendor will have an extensive list of case studies and client references readily available. Ideally, you should look for references from people in your industry or similar, so that you can get a fuller picture of how the software – and the vendor – might work for your business. Although praise for the software is important, that should be your minimum expectation; you need to know how the clients feel about working with the people that make up that organisation.

3. Does size matter?

When you are dealing with specialised software, as is the case with financial software, should you go with the big name brand or the smaller niche brand? Well, would you rather have access to a general sales person or the owner of the business? A smaller vendor is also likely to have a deeper understanding of and interest in your individual needs. You need to find the balance between their being big enough and having been around long enough to give you the security of an established, secure company, but small enough that you can still talk directly to the boss.

4. Training and support

Even the most user-friendly software will require some element of training and support. Ensure the vendor you choose offers full training and ongoing support from specialised qualified staff. If your financial software is designed to be used by non-financial users, you want to ensure that your supplier will take the time to train your people to make the most of the system.

5. Do they have a plan for the future?

Does the vendor have a development plan for their software or will you have to replace the whole kit and caboodle in a few years? Do they work with a client driven development mindset or do they just add features they think will be interesting to design or develop? Knowing that you are making a long term investment in something that has a long term future and that you could contribute to and be a part of can make your investment a deeper proposition than just another product purchase.

The best software won’t get you very far without the right relationship with your vendor, and those relationships can only be built if you know who you’re dealing with.


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