Choosing software for your small business can be a make or break opportunity. You need something that’s value for money. Doesn’t go offline too often and allows you to take your data with you should you decide to switch to another provider down the line.
In this article, i’m going to go through the 10 points I look for in a software vendor solution. In the hope that it can give your small business some food for thought.
I have a checklist of requirements that I go through before committing to choosing software for my small business.
It’s not only the cost involved in subscribing to the new software that matters. But there’s also the not inconsiderable time commitment required in learning a new user interface and workflow.
1) Does It Have Data Portability?
Can you switch software service providers and take your customers and customer data with you when you go? Important. Especially when it comes to payment gateways like Paypal or Stripe.
Ask their support before committing to a solution.
2) Server / Bandwidth issues.
How fast is the service? Simple test. Sign-up for a free trial and access the service online via your web browser. Is the site slow or fast?
If it’s slow, check Google to see if Google is slow or fast. If both are slow. Then it’s your own Internet connection. If Google is quick. Then it’s the vendor’s software that is slow.
3) Investigate Uptime.
The length of time between the vendor’s service going offline for any reason. Worth checking out for your software solution (see below).
Always test support. Often software companies will offer support over Twitter. Some companies are based on the other side of the world and work 9-5.
So it takes at least 24hrs for support to get back to you. Also, is the support helpful and knowledgeable?
5) Sign up for a free trial.
Generally, software vendors have a free trial. If you sign up but get distracted and can’t spend the time to test. Ask them to extend your free trial for another few weeks.
Make the time to test the system the second time around. I often get an extension on a free trial for software I haven’t used much the first time around.
6) Check online reviews.
Sites like trustpilot.com, capterra.com, g2.com all contain customer reviews of software services. The best thing to do is to type in “my-software review” into Google and look for one of these sites. Where “my-software” is the name of the software product you’re researching.
7) Does the site have a status subdomain?
Eg. “status.acuityscheduling.com“. Acuity Scheduling has a status page that gets updated if they go offline for whatever reason. The status page should also tell you the uptime of the site. AcuitySheduling has a 99.98% uptime, which is good.
8) Does the software have an up to date changelog?
Bit of a technical one. But you want software that is updated and improved often. The changelog displays changes made to the software. The when and the what. So type “changelog mypthub.com” into google and it brings up the latest changes to the software.
9) Does it have a WordPress plugin?
Not a deal-breaker, but handy nonetheless. Especially if your website runs the WordPress content management system.
Most software should have a WordPress plugin that gets updated regularly. WordPress runs 38% of websites so it’s a good sign if the software integrates with WordPress.
To check type “my-software WordPress plugin” and see what comes up.
10) Are you contacted over social media (particularly LinkedIn) by a company employee after signing up?
Good sign. Gives you a go-to person to contact with any issues you are having.
Generally this means the company has their house in order in my opinion.
Finally, I’d suggest shopping around when it comes to choosing software for your small business. Often up-and-coming software vendors will try to make a name for themselves by offering features for free. That their more established rivals are charging for.
If you think I’ve missed any steps in the list. Let me know in the comments below. Alternatively if you have any questions. Just leave a comment or else contact us.
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