Data storage is cheap. Believe me, It’s all cloud. Infrastructure costs are shared across all users resulting in less expensive applications. Days are gone where 30% of application costs include infrastructure and that variation is reduced a lot now. Infrastructure to host applications have reduced to minimal, and thanks to companies like Amazom, Rackspace, Bluehost, so on.
Market is more competitive and companies have almost automated all their processes resulting in less burden to their customers. Do you know the industry that you are working in? Everyday a new software is in market and a new software is out of the market. Applications that you evaluate are playing in extreme competitive environment. Let’s start our evaluation with this in mind, so I am sure the next time you take a demo, take from an INC and not from any LLC. I believe companies who make applications and want their customers to store their data or automate their day to day processes using those applications that intend to stay in market for a long time.
Applications that you evaluate are mission critical for your business, It is your back office. Your strength is your employees and you are gonna share all your employee data there in the application that you evaluate. So, ask for security. Application that you evaluate is mostly on cloud, so ask what security cloud provider provide, the application provides, how data is maintained in their application, who handles their database and ask for an agreement on how they will handle their customer data.
Suggestion: Google common cloud security features and ask what security they provide apart from this cloud-specific common security.
I am sure you are not here to spend company money buying products and at the same time you are also not appointed to invest time talking to these companies configuring application to suite your business needs and demands. So, look for an application which is Scalable, Configurable and Tailor Made. Applications are available for Recruitment’s, Immigration, Time Sheets, Invoices, etc individually or applications which provide all these functions as a whole. Know what you can configure as an application administrator and for what all you have to depend on them. In cases, where you have to depend on them, find what is their SLA in a sense if you raise a request, by when will they respond to you and what if they don’t respond to you on time.
Suggestion: There are different modes to communicate with the product company. The best way is chatting with them while you are working on their application.
Applications that catering to this generation focus more on how user-friendly they are, how simple they look and how easily you retrieve your data. Understand this, when companies can build applications that are so simple in nature, then why invoices that are sent to you so complex? Hidden charges are a big NO in today’s world. Applications that you buy are not hosted on your server in your office, they are hosted on cloud. There is nothing like a setup cost and training cost. Believe me, they want you to use their product, they want you to leave a positive review for them, they want you to refer them to your professional circles. They have to train you for that, if you like it then you will not just review their application, you will also recommend to others.
Suggestion:They should only charge you for users, mails, customization and any other attribute, that’s it. Not for training, support, setup blah blah blah.
Do you know why Apple saw great success? It’s because Apple marketed its product to you and me and sold it through telecom providers like AT&T, Verizon. AT&T, Verizon’s competitive advantage is Apple. If you buy an application then that application should leave user experience in such a way that it should act as employee benefit and not as an employee micro manager. It is your employee self-service? Then your employee should love to use it. Your team should be more than happy to keep it open on their mobile or computer. It should be your advantage, you should not be the application company’s advantage.
Suggestion:No software in this industry is built for a Mars Mission. Applications that you evaluate are not from NASA. So, ask if they are customer inclusive, ask if they take up customer feedback and incorporate in their application or they just do what they think is correct. Also ask if they charge you additional for the changes you suggested.
As I said, no software in this industry is built to achieve Mars. You may take one application and reject it after using it for couple of weeks. Its common for you, for me, for any one. Your company is taken over by some other company or you take over some other company who has a robust in-house built application. No matter what the reasons are, you have to stop using the application that you bought. Now what? So, ask will you get your data back. Ask do they charge additional? Do they give data in the format you need?
Let’s come to scenario 2:you are migrating from another product to the product that you evaluate. Ask if they are willing to assist you in data migration and most importantly, ask how long it will take to migrate all data. The best way is to give them sample data and ask to migrate and show as proof of concept. Few companies charge additional and few companies don’t.
Suggestion:Data backup is usually only data and not files. So, consider this while you evaluate. Ask if they are willing to give data along with files and also ask do they give the folder structure or just files dump? You need the folder structure along with data, not any dump.
Tip:If you are looking at a software to use for long or you have more employees then it is good to invest time on knowing what test they did on their product. Ask reports about penetration test, vulnerability test, threat test, etc. This will also help you know if these companies are prepared for these or they are ready to get one for you.
I have covered major of the points, however feel free to leave your feedback or any point that you think I missed here.