8 Tips for Choosing the Right Software Partner (While Keeping Your Sanity)

Does the idea of going through a software selection process give you anxiety, nightmares & keep you up at night? Here are 8 tips to calm your fears.

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    Does the idea of going through a software selection process cause you anxiety, give you nightmares, or keep you up at night?  There’s a lot to think about and a lot of systems to choose from.  But one thing to keep in mind when you’re trying to select the right software for your company is it’s equally as important to select the right software partner.  Choosing the right partner can make the difference between the success and failure of your project.  A good partnership will ensure that your business and processes are reviewed and analyzed correctly, you’re selecting the right software for your business, you have a successful implementation, you receive comprehensive training and on-going support, and you get the most out of your system.

    So how do you choose the right partner?  To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of tips to guide you when making this important decision.

    1. Do your research on prospective partners. What are the partner’s qualifications?  Do they have recognized industry certifications and awards?  How long have they been in business and working with this specific software?  Do they have strong partner relationships?  Are they in close geographic proximity?  What are their areas of product and industry expertise?  You should be able to find a lot of this information on their website.
    2. Conduct an interview. Once the partner has passed the “pre-screening” process, arrange a meeting to not only further identify their qualifications and learn more about them but to determine if their organization is compatible with yours.  What are their client and employee retention rates?  What are their processes and implementation methodology?  Ask for different members of the project team to be present at this meeting.  You may even want to arrange the meeting at their office to observe their work environment and cultural atmosphere.  Does the partner fit your company’s culture and philosophy?  It’s important to choose a partner you can work with and enjoy working with as the relationship will ideally be long-term.  Does the partner listen and communicate effectively and strive to understand your business and requirements?  The primary objectives of this interview are to learn about the partner, what they can provide, and how you can benefit from them.  It should not be a “selling” session focused on the specific details and features of the software.
    3. Determine training and support options and resources. Does the partner offer on-going training and technical support and perform upgrades and maintenance?  What type of training program or approach do they employ (e.g. train-the-trainer vs. train-the-user)?  Will the support hours service your company effectively?
    4. Discuss implementation resources and availability and experience of personnel. Does the partner have the necessary resources for the implementation to be completed on time and coincide with your project timeline?  What are the implementation team members’ certifications and expertise?  How many of the employees focus solely on the specific software, and how long have they each worked with it?
    5. View a demo but not before you’re ready. You should already have your list of requirements before viewing a demo so that you can control what features are presented.  A software product can have a lot of fancy features, but does it have all the functionality you require?  Make sure your team understands the objectives and priorities beforehand.
    6. Request an initial estimate and require revisions as requirements are determined or changed. An experienced partner should be able to provide you with a breakdown of costs before and during the requirements phase.  As requirements are further defined and objectives change, be sure to request revisions of the estimate.
    7. Request references. Has the partner implemented the software at companies similar to yours (industry, company size, number of employees, etc.)?  Call the customer references and ask about their relationships and experiences with the partner.  How satisfied are they with their implementation and with the support they have received?  Are billing matters dealt with fairly and accurately?
    8. Steer clear of RFPs (regardless of what you’ve heard). Some people and companies may influence you that creating an RFP is the way to find the best software and partner.  However, the RFP process is expensive and time-consuming – whether you decide to create one yourself or hire an outside firm to do it for you.  You’ll have to create the RFP, including your requirements, figure out who you want to send it to, and then wait for responses and review them, consuming substantial and valuable internal resources.  You’ll save time and money by compiling your list of must-haves, calling prospective partners, and asking if their software can fulfill those requirements.  Then you can select your finalists for the interview process.

    By following these 8 tips, you can rest easy knowing you made the right decision to ensure a successful relationship.  Contact Socius to put these tips to the test!

    Socius, a Microsoft Dynamics Partner and Sage Partner, provides comprehensive consulting services including Technology and Business Management consulting, in addition to their services related to Ohio ERP software, Ohio CRM software, and Ohio Business Intelligence software.


    Microsoft Partner & Change of VAR