Step Back and Gather the Big Picture
This may sound obvious, but your first step is clarifying your needs. An obvious suggestion for sure, but many businesses find themselves less than satisfied with their selections because of a failure to gauge the true scope of their needs and the exact solutions they were looking for. Why are you searching for new software? What are the challenges you are facing and what solutions do you seek? First focus on the needs, the things the software absolutely must do for you. Then make a separate list of the wants, the things that may make things easier, but are not crucial to the core task.
Determine Your Budget
Before you begin the selection process, it is important you crunch some numbers and figure out how much money you can spend, or perhaps more importantly, want to spend on a program that fully meets your needs. Don’t just look at the upfront purchase price. Remember to factor in recurring costs, support, first-year implementation, whether you need to pay someone to set up new hardware or help you customize the program to more closely meet your specific needs.
Ask Users for Input
It would behoove you to get the input of the people who will actually be using the software you are looking to purchase. What challenges are they facing? What functions would enhance the efficiency or accuracy of their work? What are the limitations of the current programs?
Do Your Research
The internet is your friend and there are countless resources for finding information on the software programs you are considering. Now that you have figured out what you want to spend, and your exact needs, you can execute a more effective search, going right to the programs and vendors you know have what you need.
Look closely into the vendor. How long has it been in business? What is the typical client profile? Are they in a similar industry? Does it seem like the vendor has a high level of transparency? For example, are there forums on the site where customers can discuss tech issues or problems with the workflow? Check out the service agreements—can it meet your company’s needs?
Get Demos of the Finalists
Once you have narrowed down the key contenders, request free demos. Typically you can download them from the site, but sometimes you may need to get a hard copy CD. This will allow you to test drive the program and get an idea of some of its core functions. Is the software designed well? Are the functions clearly marked and can you navigate through it with ease? Are you having an easy time figuring out how to perform the various tasks? Once you have thoroughly evaluated these programs, you should feel confident in choosing the right one.
About the Author:Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs about all things tech.