Most mid-sized businesses looking for software can’t go to the local computer or business supply store and buy a product off the shelf. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in — once you get to a certain size, your company’s IT world will be filled with servers, databases, and robust programs that require expert implementation, training, and support.
Whether your company manufactures flowerpots and you need an ERP system, or your company builds multi-family housing and you need construction management software, or you’re a hospital that needs to manage human resources, you’re more than likely going to make your purchase and go through the implementation with a company that partners with a software publisher.
Through this entire process, you will develop a long-term relationship with your chosen software partner. But how do you know what to look for when you’re choosing the right software and partner?
Here are a few red flags to look for when you first start looking for a software vendor:
Software vendor red flags
1) Over-promising: There’s nothing worse than a yes man in a business relationship. If “Sure, we can do that!” is the answer to everything, it’s probably a good sign of over-promising and under-delivering. It’s a rare case that software and vendor are a 100 percent fit when it comes to finding the right mid-market enterprise system. Even in a best-case scenario, a reputable software vendor will probably say no (or “not without some tweaks,” or “I’ll have to find out if that’s possible,” etc.) a handful times over the course of a relationship with a prospect or a customer. If a vendor makes it seem like their company can make all of your wildest software dreams come true, it’s probably a big red flag.
2) Discrediting the competition: Why are people sick and tired of political commercials? Because politicians have taken to spending their time and effort putting down their competition instead of telling the public how they intend to solve their problems. Occasionally, the same thing happens in the business world.
Most companies go through a discovery process when purchasing an enterprise system. It involves researching both the software and the vendors they will potentially work with. Here’s a dirty little secret: Most enterprise systems are on par with each other. One system may excel in one area of a business suite over another, but for the most part, you’re going to get a good product with whatever title you choose. Therefore, companies usually base their decisions on the reputation of the software publisher and their chosen vendor.
It’s a big red flag if a vendor spends most of their time trashing the competition during your discovery process instead of talking about the benefits they could bring to your company. Or they don’t help you weigh legitimate pros and cons of their software. If this is the case, you may need to research what insecurity they’re trying to hide.
3) Lack of professionalism: There are a few givens when it comes to professionalism. Nobody wants to work with a software vendor who doesn’t return phone calls, is late to appointments, or shows up to meetings looking like they just rolled out of bed. There are also some less-obvious red flags. Does a vendor want to be your buddy before they earn your trust? Are they more intent on selling their product than solving your problems? Do they use jargon and “biz-speak” to make themselves look more knowledgeable or superior?
4) Too small to help: The size of a company doesn’t matter if they can meet your expectations for software and service. On the other hand, a vendor may be great at focusing on their one product or service, but they won’t be able to help you if your business needs outgrow their service. A small vendor may not understand your entire business functions and what software can help because they’re so narrowly focused.
Have you ever had a bad experience when searching for a software vendor? Did you ever change your mind on software because you didn’t click with the vendor? Let us know!