There are a number of ways to simplify the work environment, from removing unnecessary tasks to utilizing technology to create greater efficiency. Document management is one such tool. It allows for business simplification and improvement through a technology investment.
But all vendors will promise in some way or another to make your life easier while simultaneously reducing costs. The question becomes who to trust and why should you trust them?
There are a number of elements in a buying decision that are very important when evaluating a product, solution, or potential consulting service.
Below is a quick summary of the best way to approach the first couple stages of any potential software purchase:
Understanding the Industry
- What do I think the software will do for my company?
- Will the software simplify our workplace?
- Will employees embrace this software?
- What features are standard within the industry?
- What are some of the competitors in the market?
- Who has the best customer service ratings?
- Who has the best success with implementations?
- What are the typical implementation times?
- What are typical gains seen for a company of my size and type?
- What is the typical investment for what I’m looking for?
- What industry trade associations should I look at for reference?
Speak to others in your line of work. Nothing beats a reference from a company that you work with.
This is an ideal situation, but if possible it usually gives you access to some vendors that may not be as popular on social media or Forrester/Gartner type sites.
Establish a list of requirements for your organization and use them as a starting point for an informal RFP. I personally suggest putting a list of five to ten vendors together and comparing them on paper before you begin scheduling demos.
Evaluating the Competition
At this point, the research has been completed within the industry and you have an idea of who does what.
The important part is how the competition implements each feature.
Software companies are notorious for adding features with little respect to the user in order to get another checkbox in a feature list. The best software companies will have put a lot of forethought into a feature and it will show in the end user experience. Pay attention to these details because this is what separates a company that is looking to simplify your workplace versus simply get a checkbox on a spreadsheet.
- What kind of experience have they had implementing software?
- What methodology does the company use to implement the software?
- Are there certified project managers and workflow specialists?
After all, this is the most important aspect of any software purchasing decision. You can buy the greatest piece of software in the world but if its’ implementation is not managed correctly, you will quickly have yet another piece of shelfware.
Check the references for each vendor. Ask them about their implementation plans. What kind of documentation were they provided with? Did they have a test system? How much training did they go through before they went live? How was the support once the implementation was finished? Did they set expectations with a project plan and complete them on time?
Software buying decisions are an exhaustive process and require a lot of research. But choosing the right software is key; select a company that will not be just a technology provider, but a partner.