In today’s digital age, the software market is vast, offering a myriad of tools for every conceivable business need. I’ve often found that choosing the right software in certain market segments feels akin to selecting the perfect washing machine or picking out an Android phone from a sea of options. This article isn’t an exhaustive guide but rather a collection of insights and suggestions to help you navigate software selection for your business. While these tips are primarily tailored for SaaS solutions, with a bit of tweaking, they can also guide you in choosing other tools or even professional service providers.
1. Gauge the Implementation Impact and Explore Contenders: Before diving in, assess how pivotal and time-consuming the software’s implementation will be for your organization. If you’re contemplating a large-scale CRM rollout or any other crucial technology, the Lindy effect becomes increasingly significant. This principle suggests that the future life expectancy of non-perishable things like a technology or an idea is proportional to their current age. In essence, the more critical the technology is for your company, the more you should value the longevity and proven track record of the software solution. However, if the stakes aren’t as high or there’s room for experimentation, considering a new contender in the market might be beneficial. They often offer good value for money and can be more user-centric.
2. Anticipate Future Pricing: If you’re eyeing a solution that’s currently in its growth phase, heavily backed by venture capital, and priced noticeably lower than its competitors, brace yourself for potential price hikes. As a rule of thumb, especially in the SaaS realm, prices have a tendency to inch upwards over time, or the number of features at a given price point may decrease. It’s akin to shrinkflation but in the software space.
3. Investigate the Founders’ Track Record: For startups or smaller teams, the values and ethos of the founders can significantly shape the product’s trajectory and the nature of collaboration. It’s wise to be cautious about software from companies where founders have a history of questionable decisions or behaviors.
4. Test Support, Product Growth, and Beyond: While terms and conditions can offer some insights, it’s always more revealing to experience the support firsthand. Look into aspects like response times to queries, the availability and frequency of backups (if offered), and the depth of integration with other tools. During the test period, observe how fast and user-oriented the product growth is, indicating how responsive the company is to user needs and feedback. Separately, ensure you’re also checking for GDPR-related concerns or other regulatory matters, as you don’t want to have problems with the law thanks to the software provider you have chosen.
5. Understand the Software’s Philosophy: Every software tool is crafted with a specific philosophy and caters to particular buyer personas. It’s more than just demographics. It’s essential to be aware of what’s not on offer and what probably won’t be added in the foreseeable future, as it might not align with the software’s roadmap tailored for its target clients.
6. Always Opt for a Test Drive and Observe Responsiveness: Words can be enticing, but experiencing software in action is irreplaceable. Always opt for a trial run before committing. This ensures that the software’s real-world performance aligns with its advertised capabilities. Additionally, during this trial phase, gauge how responsive the company is to user feedback and how often they iterate based on that feedback.
7. Ease of Migration Matters: Software solutions that offer straightforward migration options to competitors often prioritize product quality and user experience over creating vendor lock-ins. This is a positive sign, indicating that the company is confident in its product’s value proposition.
8. Approach Recommendations with Caution: While personal recommendations can be valuable, it’s essential to approach them with a discerning mind, especially if they aren’t based on extensive usage. Many individuals have a natural inclination to praise their recent acquisitions. However, a genuine assessment often requires a more extended, objective evaluation.
In wrapping up, remember that every software implementation is a balance of trade-offs. Being aware of these trade-offs and understanding their implications is the key to a successful software selection journey. It ensures that you’re well-prepared, making informed decisions that align with your business needs, thereby minimizing potential frustrations down the line.
Moreover, while it might seem straightforward to switch tools in the SaaS era, the reality is often more complex. The larger the company, the more challenging it becomes. The more people use a tool and the more integrations it has with other systems, the harder it is to make a switch. There are numerous companies that shell out significant sums for tools they barely use, simply because they’ve become reliant on a specific feature and can’t operate without it, even if it means paying for an entire suite of functionalities they don’t need. And believe me, you don’t want to be one of them.