Last Updated 7 months by Emily Standley-Allard
Everyone is developing software, and the right software vendor is key for business. Enterprises need high-quality, top-performing assets to remain competitive. Wading through the options can be a challenge, but it will yield results for years.
Businesses need secure and versatile software to stay resilient against cybersecurity threats while handling data flow in the organization — your software program has to do it all.
Considerations for Exploring Software Options
Leaders need to consider numerous factors when assessing software vendors. It takes time, but these are the most critical for success.
The top concern picking the right software vendor might be price.
Software costs vary drastically, so it’s essential to spend time receiving various quotes and weighing the pros and cons against the numbers.
Buyers should always submit a request for information and request for quote before diving in headfirst.
Though the upfront costs may be small or substantial, depending on your business, a range of factors goes into determining the initial price tag:
- Software reputation and popularity in the industry
- High overhead
- Tools and capabilities
- Intent to fulfill an expensive future roadmap
- Maintenance expenses
- Personal connections with vendor employees
Two programs from competitors could provide the same features at widely varying rates. Every vendor is different in how they create their products and maintain their operation.
Even though a business may operate in a niche or have worldwide recognition, it doesn’t mean one quote will represent the industry standard.
Making inquiries to all prospective software vendors will be worth it as a learning experience alone.
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Data Security Software
A failure of programs to patch out vulnerabilities triggers numerous cybersecurity breaches every year.
Companies will want to spend time communicating with the software vendor about the safety of their code and how they implement the most current cybersecurity practices into their operations.
Do they collect data from their clients, and if they do, do they practice data minimization?
How quick are they to submit product patches in light of new hacking trends? Are they transparent in their communications?
It’s also vital to inquire about compliance and certifications. Usually, the more a software vendor has, the better.
Certification signifies a will to obtain third-party consultation and auditing to prove their expertise and attention to detail.
With cybersecurity becoming a hotter topic daily, trying for compliance demonstrates that an organization understands how vital governments and regulatory bodies are for standardizing safe digital practices.
It can also imply a desire to make programs accessible to reach as many users as possible.
Enterprises wish software programs were one-size-fits-all, but they must consider a few operational touch points first:
- How well does this program work within my sector? Do market competitors find value in it?
- Is it compatible with other devices already in my organization, or would implementation require a hardware overhaul?
- What is the learning curve of the product? Will it require additional training for people to operate?
- Will the software vendor support this application for a while to prevent compatibility issues?
- Is this an agnostic program that can work from the cloud or sync with other potential digital integrations?
Some developers curate software for specific sectors or purposes. Not all of them have the same shelf life, but some programs, like customer relationship management (CRM) software, are timeless.
While companies often spend time selecting software based on firsthand trials from the vendor, they also need to question how well it will function in their current digital ecosystem.
Some software vendor programs intend to be all-in-one solutions, while others fulfill a specific niche.
Organizations should determine what they want from the software vendor before being impressed by how specific or broad their products are.
Without a clear intent, companies might invest in overly complex software with so many widgets and abilities that employees get overwhelmed and practical implementation becomes an impossibility.
Having clear expectations will assist companies in developing a list of criteria for the software before browsing.
Knowing the needs beforehand will save budgets from impulsive, wishful-thinking decisions that stem from being swayed by a software vendor sales representative.
There are various fantastic enterprise solutions out there, but having them all is unnecessary to fulfill most business priorities.
Terms and Conditions
Everyone wants to skip this step, but when entering agreements with software vendors, it’s crucial to read the fine print to understand the scope of the contract.
One software vendor might include in-person training in their fee structure, while another may have yearly renewal fees.
Does the vendor charge for setup or add-on features? Due to fine-print details, extra costs could add up.
Software vendors and buyers alike want to capitalize on data collection. Many vendors will have clauses referring to data protection in contracts that businesses must take time to consider.
Does the vendor encrypt and protect data, or does the wording hint they would have the ability to sell specific data points collected through the use of their software?
Companies can determine their dealbreakers to make the process easier, especially when choosing between multiple software-as-a-service (SaaS) candidates.
Most importantly, the terms should explain the company’s intention behind the product and how they expect users to employ it.
Using their service outside of these confines might be a breach of contract.
Therefore, business leaders should review the terms carefully so they know if they should be prepared to relinquish some authority or plan to negotiate the conditions.
Take Your Time When Software Vendor Shopping
Remaining patient when seeking a software vendor is the best way to solidify employee and revenue success.
Digital transformation requires trial and error and poring through lengthy documents to find the right solution for your operation.
Organizations will be happy knowing they reached out to multiple vendors to see the breadth of these services because it informs them of their sector’s resources and what companies may have competitive relevance in the future.
Ultimately, that time investment yields more than just the software in the end.
Eleanor is the editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the director at a marketing agency prior to becoming a freelance web designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and dog, Bear.