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What to consider when purchasing software
(Part 1)

Reading time: 8-10 minutes

With our reliance on technology greater than it has ever been before, and steadily increasing, the software industry continues to grow at a phenomenal pace. Gartner predicts that the Software as a Service (more commonly known as SaaS) industry will be worth roughly $143.7 billion by 2022. The size and growth of the industry can be attributed to the many different providers and solutions all competing for market share, encompassing a wide variety of applications.

With an industry so big, it can often prove difficult to evaluate which solutions will make operational and financial sense for your business.

Here are some things you should consider before purchasing any software for your business.

1. Research, research, and more research

The internet is the biggest source of information that has ever been available to us in our history and according to Reuters it is the “most popular source of information and the preferred choice”. When dealing with such an abundance of information, it is important to be able to filter out facts from fiction. Any advice or information you find should be compared to independent sources and see how closely they differ.

Before starting on your purchasing journey, you need to know what your objectives are from an organisational point of view. A set of questions should be created that encompasses all you hope to achieve with your purchase. Questions such as what are you trying to solve? How much are you willing to spend? Will you require any new technical upgrades to support your purchase? What sort of support will you receive after the initial purchase?

The answers will require the input of almost everyone affected within your organisation. At face value, you may feel only those who will directly use the software should give their input, but it is important to expand this. For example, if you are looking at purchasing design software, then naturally you might feel that only your marketing team may use it. What about if you have a sales team though? Would they not find it beneficial to use it to build their presentations or collateral? You will not know these answers till you have consulted with everyone.

Once you have worked out what you are looking for, it is then time to start looking for a solution to your pre-determined questions. The number of initial solutions that seem to answer your questions will astound you. Concepts such as organic search, pay-per-click and referrals have resulted in the internet turning into a throwback of the Wild West. Which sources can you trust and who is trying to pull the wool over your eyes?

Websites that offer independent reviews or user-generated reviews are a great place to start. An example of this is Capterra. They are a free online marketplace vendor that serves as an intermediary between buyers and technology vendors within the software industry. Reviews are left by users and are then independently vetted. This allows you to get an impartial idea of how well the software has worked out for others. It also provides you with a list of features and any pros and cons relating to the provider.

2. Determine the value it could add to your business

AEI reported in 2017 that of the Fortune 500 firms listed in 1955, only 60 remained in 2017. Innovation played a pivotal role in determining which of these companies remained on the list. A lesson to be learned from this is that resting on one’s laurels, no matter how big they are, can lead to substantial decline over time. The adage, “if you are standing still, you’re actually going backwards” immediately comes to mind when dealing with software. It is important to also measure the impact over a long period of time versus an immediate short-term impact.

Value can be measured in various ways and forms. This includes the ability of the software to lower your costs, the impact on your organization’s revenue, the ability to boost productivity and the effect on your employee and customer management. Determining this value before implementation may be difficult. However, it is important to know what outcomes you expect and to have some sort of expectations to measure up to.

In today’s SaaS marketplace, according to PYMNTS, 80% of SaaS providers offer a free trial that allows the potential customer to experience the software for themselves. Whilst this has been adopted by so many in recent times it has not been adopted by everyone and those who do not offer a free trial should not be automatically written off. Often the companies who do not offer free trials, have a reason for this and are not trying to hide or mislead anyone.

In fact, it can be quite the opposite as marketing guru Neil Patel, believes that free trials are often dangerous for vendors and consumers alike.  A disturbing recent trend is offering a free trial that locks the user into a contract that they are then unable to get out of. Marketing website Unbounce noted that many of the biggest software providers on the internet are guilty of doing this. Always be aware of what you are signing up for and be especially cautious when you are required to enter your billing details to sign up for a ‘free trial’.

Here at PageTiger we pride ourselves on transparency and hope that these tips can be useful for you and your business next time you are making a software purchase. These tips are based loosely on our past experiences with many of our distinguished customers.

Next week we will cover the types of questions you should be asking potential software providers and what you should be looking out for.