by Mahzabin Chowdhury

Marketing and sales hypes are everywhere. In this dynamic technology landscape, we are bombarded and overwhelmed everyday with ample number of IT choices. Selecting a software solution, be it a Financial Solution, Human Resources Solution, Enterprise Resource Planning Solution, Restaurant Management Solution or Point-of Sale software solution, is a challenging task. Unless you are an IT geek, chances are there that you might end up spending a huge amount of money and dig up your own source of frustration.
Generally and traditionally, the selection process starts with a software requirement analysis, Request for Proposal (RFP) and identifying vendors. But does this process help to identify the right solution for you? Not only that, through this process how do you tell which vendor will be trustworthy and provide you with consistent after-sales support and service? It is important to have a game plan to choose your right software as well as the vendor that will work for your venture without breaking your bank. So, how do you sort through all the choices that you are offered to and select your desired IT solution and vendor?

Let’s have a look at the factors to be considered while selecting your next IT solution vendor.

Know your software needs: Before you head out to the marketplace for vendor selection, identify your business challenges. The first step is to nail your real problems. Remember, these are the ones that you truly desire to see resolved and therefore needs to be pinpointed as accurately as possible. A vague set of requirements will only get you a vague solution. Therefore, gather your IT needs as accurately and articulately as possible. Once you have the big picture, you can now narrow your must-have list down and start looking for vendors.

Know your budget: The next related step is to determine your budget for this solution. Always remember that you are paying for solving a real life problem and so you must establish a realistic cost associated with it. Going cheaper would often mean an unreliable solution and/or vendor. On the opposite spectrum, spending more than you need may often translate into procuring something that you may not even need. So, try to accurately predict your budget through looking at your problem areas.
Financial stability, expertise and reputation: When acquiring a software, be it expensive or not, it is mandatory to know that the software company is well-reputed, proficient and financially sound and will be around in the future. You should consider their background and experiences (such as, number of years in the business industry, business trends, a good track record of successful completion of work, adequate staff members with required domain knowledge, credentials and certificates etc.). Client base and word-of-mouth are indicators of vendor reputation and their business strength. You should know the number of clients your vendor has, the size of clients and what other people are saying about your vendor in the industry. Ask your vendor for references, if possible visit their client(s) to get a better understanding of the product.
Good assistance throughout the journey: During the technology partnership, you will be needing a lot of troubleshooting and software assistance. Therefore, know the vendor’s policies and practices regarding maintenance and support service, contract terms, service level agreement, user training, consultation and customization facilities.

Figure out the cost: Concerning the cost, you often hear businesses claim that budget is not a big deal, however, in reality, it becomes one of the prime factors that impacts your procuring decisions. Hidden costs! – always find out what the total cost of procuring will be. Make sure the price on the label is actually the final cost. Get all the necessary details and full cost of the software to get rid of any unwanted hidden and/or additional fees.
Last but not the least, keep an open mind and take your time to select your vendor. Happy hunting!

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