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By themselves, these phrases and situations may seem at first to be innocuous.  However, without some clarification (and any software-industry person MUST be focused on clarity: of the sales process, the capabilities of their product and your needs, most of all), you may have a future software implementation disaster on your hands if you aren’t aware of what to look out for.

Sadly, in talking to some potential and future IncorTech Clients, I’ve learned a few of the “de-clarifying statements” and tactics used by some who are less than scrupulous and by some who are just ignorant of the importance of clarity to both their customers’ success and their own.  

I’ll highlight some of these “yellow lights” so that you – the customers – can benefit from others’ experience.  When you see a yellow light: its time to determine whether to stop or keep going.  I hope this information will guide you effectively in that event.  

1) “Yeah, we have that but its not automated yet.”

This is typically code for “our software doesn’t really do that.”  What it means: you’ll be using Excel to track that and if you’re lucky, it won’t cost too much for us to import it from your spreadsheets in a very manual fashion.  And that’s presuming there is somewhere to store that data in the system if its not information within what that system is typically able to track about the customers, vendors, items, transactions, etc.

2) “That will be in the next release”

And this may be true: however, it would be good to know if the release date has been announced by the publisher yet (publicly).  Even if the publisher has a typical release cycle, you can’t always take that to the bank.  Ask for something in writing from the publisher.  It could be a “pre-release guide” that illustrates the feature.  If you’re lucky enough that the reseller/partner you’re dealing with has beta access to the new release, ask if they can demonstrate the functionality for you.

3) Lowball services quotes.

We see this a little less these days, but it can certainly still rear its ugly head.  The practice of lowballing services estimates during the pre-sales process has been an unpleasant surprise for all too many small and medium sized businesses that didn’t have an accurate picture of the cost of their desired implementation.  The best bet to be able to spot this tactic is to know what is typical in your industry for the ratio of software cost to professional services.  For distributors, it may be relatively low for professional services, i.e. 1 to .75.  However: if you are buying a very low cost solution and expecting to implement some third party add-ons, this may change a bit.  For example: Sage MAS 90 is likely to follow that 1:.75 or 1:1 ratio whereas QuickBooks Enterprise (with its lower initial price) with a third party shipping integration may look more like 1:1.25 or 1:1.5.  In other industries, things can look really different.  Take professional services companies (like Architectural or Engineering Consultants): they maybe looking at 1:1.5 to 1:2.0 on software to services with leading products like Deltek Vision.  How should you find out what this looks like?  Call a colleague at a competitor who has implemented software in the last 3 years or less.  Asking for a reference provided by your solution provider may be helpful, but let’s face it: who gives out “bad references”?

I hope this information saves someone some time, money and heartache.  Changing software is not a decision companies make for fun.  Its a necessary step to ensure maximum output of the company’s resources: a must in today’s economy.  It shouldn’t need to be this hard to find a trustworthy partner, but it pays to be as thorough vetting the provider as the product you’ll eventually use.

Note: I am not a lawyer, this is my personal opinion, your mileage may vary, yadda yadda yadda.

DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by IncorTech. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials.
Category : Opinion

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