How (and how not!..) to buy new software.

How (and how not!..) to buy new software.

What is this blog about

This blog aims to help anyone considering a new computer system, or new computer software, to help run your business. This blogs intent is to give some hard “inside” information that will help keep you on track, avoid any possible pitfalls, and get your company the system/software you need.

Target audience

This blog post is aimed at anyone who is even slightly thinking about buying software for your business.
In your newly purchased system you may want dozens of menus, or just one or two, you may want to have the purchases orders from all your customers, or just your midlands based ones. Realistically you’ll be spending somewhere between £10,000 and £200,000+ dependent on what exactly it is you are after. You may have bought a computer system in the past, and need a new one because the old one is outdated, or it is too expensive to upgrade, or because your business needs have changed. Or even the wrong system was bought in the first place, in any case this blog post will give you an insight to getting it right.

Setting out your requirements!

The laziest (and best!…) way to start looking for a new system.

Get the most senior people in your company to write an outline of what they want the computer to do to help them for both their own and the company’s areas of responsibility. You can then use these to:
• Ensure that everyone’s had his or her say.
• Use as a document to pull together a checklist.
• Send the specific requirements to a potential supplier.
• Get rid of any potential conflicting demands.
• Also from an internal point of view, see how people view their responsibilities.

Writing a checklist

• A checklist should cover the basic areas (sales ledger, purchase ledger etc) that’s needed along with any specific features needed for your company.
• Be brief, if there’s a report or document you must have your new system produce, create it from your old system (or even type it in a word processor) this is the best specification.
• Qualify and quantify your wording – avoid using words such as “user-friendly”, “integrated”, “quick”, every system will claim to be all of these.
• Be flexible, if you rigidly specify features you might miss out on a system with new features, which makes it all irrelevant. Be ready to adapt after a first round of demonstrations.
• Be unambiguous – “I want to be able to send a cutting list of parts from the system to the machine tool electronically” is perfect.
• Your main interest should be the software – it’s easy to be diverted from this fact. If the software is easy to use and is just right for what you want, all other considerations (hardware, support etc) become much less relevant, you’ll need less training, less support, and fewer alterations.

Finding potential suppliers

Four places to find some potential suppliers

• Trade exhibitions
• Keeping a record or email content
• Recommendations from your more efficient suppliers / customers
• Google!

Initial evaluation of suppliers

It’s always best to ring them up! You can be fairly vague at this stage. You may reject some suppliers on the basis of size (too big / small) or the suitability of the software. A good idea is to ring multiple potential suppliers, they should be able to answer promptly, grasp your needs and give ballpark costs. If they sound okay, invite them round!

The first meeting

Some people miss this stage, and go straight to demonstrations. A meeting at your own site first will help a demonstration show areas of your particular interest. Even a brief walk round your site will help a supplier to gain some background to your business. A good supplier should welcome the opportunity, or even insist.

Getting the shortlist down to one

Even after the first meeting you could have your chosen supplier. You don’t have to pursue a handful of choices until the day before placing an order.

Here at Cuskit we are specialist in providing bespoke software and web based solutions for all your business needs. Our services include business analysis, consultancy, training, implementation, hardware sourcing & maintenance, project managements, custom made software solutions and web design & hosting.

Please contact us on either 01827 312217 or drop us an email

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