For the vast majority of people looking for new enterprise software, the task can be very daunting. Unless you are steeped in software technology, there is far more that you can’t compare, than you can. It’s like an iceberg, people see the tip and know there is far more under the water that cannot easily be seen. Comparing software is analogous - what you see is a small portion of the application, the tip if you will, with the vast majority unseen and seemingly incomparable.
So what do we do in this situation? We look at more superficial aspects, things we can “get our arms around” and ASSUME what’s “below the waterline” is the same. This, as you can imagine, can lead to poor decisions that will affect your company for years to come.
I don’t want to have your eyes glaze over with technical details, so we won’t go there. Instead, we’ll investigate what we can easily see, some key attributes “above the water”, that give us clues as to what’s below the water.
You should consider this the FIRST attribute to discover and in my opinion is the most critical. Can you trust the software provider you are considering? Not just the salesperson or the friendly technical support person or trainer, can you trust the company as a whole to care about your business? Although you may initially think you are just purchasing software, you are really entering into a long-term relationship; a partnership.
Like choosing a spouse, you can’t enter into this relationship thinking you can change them into the perfect partner you want - ain't goin to happen. You need to dig beyond their promises and look into how they’ve corporately acted/reacted in the past. Unlike the disclaimers you get when picking mutual funds for your 401k, past performance IS DIRECTLY RELATED to future performance.
Is the software company known for following through with their promises, or do they consistently disappoint? Does reality parallel rhetoric? Look beyond claims of hundreds of sales, and ask how many still use the software? How many of their customers consider the maintenance updates important enough to keep current by upgrading? In other words, are their customers satisfied enough with the relationship and find enough value to reinvest in it annually? Ask not only for several references of current customers, ask for several FORMER customers, then be sure to call each of them. You need balanced information and opinion. Ask around your associations, like MTI, and your peers, what’s the consensus?
Trust is a BIG DEAL, and if it’s not there, nothing else matters. Next time we will discuss the next attribute you need to discover, Technology.
Todd Wenzel, CEO/CTO
Throughput | Bluestreak, an MTI Diamond Sponsor.
*This is a multi-part blog, so be sure to look for parts 2, 3 & 4 coming in the near future.