1. What determines the software price? Is it Per Seat or Per User, or Per Processor?
The cost of software is determined in many ways. The two most popular ways are Per Seat or Per Concurrent User. Per Seat is determined by how many seats in your business will be using the software at any given time. On the other hand, Per Concurrent User is based on a set amount of users that can access the software at one time. (Example: concurrent users mean a program with a license for 5 users can be installed on 100 machines, but only a maximum of 5 people can use the system at once.) Per Processor is calculated on how many machines (PC’s or servers) the software will be running on. Many larger enterprise software applications use this method to determine their prices.
2. What types of on-site services are included in the purchase?
Many programs that are higher in price should include some amount of on-site services or support. If it does not, ensure that both (service & support) are built into your contract before purchasing. But, beware that this is the area where companies make most of their profit. Some companies count on your returning with requests for customizations of the software. Now that you have the software and have spent significant time purchasing hardware and dedicating resources.
They know you are already “halfway in the pool”; they also know that you will have trouble refusing to pay extra money to get what you want. These services can include anything from training classes, customizations, or help with installation issues. In the case of local software companies, keep in mind they should automatically provide some on-site services (at a minimum) before purchasing. This can only help to streamline your implementation process and increase the likelihood of your success, with the added benefit of a higher return on investment (ROI). Who wouldn’t like to have that?
3. Is there a guarantee of satisfaction with their software?
This is most widely overlooked when purchasing the software. Sometimes unsatisfied users will expect a refund after deciding that it is not what they want. My experience has been that once the developer receives payment for software, it can take next to a miracle to get a refund of any kind. Before purchasing your next piece of software, be sure to find out their return policy and several days that you can
have the software in your hands and still be able to send it back to get a full or partial refund. It can be even trickier for the buyer; you will need to build this into the contract before work begins. It goes without saying how important it is to determine this upfront in case you change your mind.
4. What is the turnaround time for getting “bugs” fixed?
Some companies will say that they will fix software issues as soon as you find one. Others will compile the list of “bug” fixes and release it on a schedule convenient for them. This can happen either monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, or yearly. Neither path is better or worse, as long as you deal with a reputable software company that stays true to its word. Knowing this before purchasing the software allows you to handle your software end-users better and provides a more accurate time frame of when your users will see changes or have their issues resolved.
5. How often do program updates go out, and do they notify customers?
This is another widely overlooked key item. There are two lines of thought that companies can use for updating customers. The company might decide not to notify its customers at all when updates roll out. They may think that if the customer has a problem, they will contact them, and at that time, would they inform the user of an available update? Beware of this method of service or lack thereof.
Steer clear of companies that do not provide this as an option to their clients. The second line of thought would be for the company to notify its customers regularly about updates. They may also offer an option of including the customer on a mailing list. In this case, be sure that they have multiple contacts on the email distribution list so that everyone who should know will not be left out of the communications loop. If the software company does not offer either one of these options, you might want to reconsider your decision.
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