5 Easy Tips For Successful Software Vendor Evaluation

Easy Tips For Successful Software Vendor Evaluation
Yashwant Shakyawal

So, you’ve decided to create some kind of digital product. Maybe you have a promising idea you’d like to bring to life in a startup, or maybe you run a business and require help with optimizing the workflow or implementing new functionality in an existing solution. Anyhow, the most crucial task you need to cope with to make it all happen is software vendor evaluation.

The evaluation process is actually more complicated than many entrepreneurs assume. There is a multitude of aspects that need to be taken into consideration, and it’s not just software development cost, as one may think. This article was created to simplify the software development vendor selection for business owners and includes some tricks that will help you make the choice you’ll be satisfied with.

Familiarize Yourself With Software Pricing

Not all entrepreneurs have even the slightest idea how much software really costs. And knowing what the market situation is will be crucial for making a balanced, informed decision. It’s vital both for businesses willing to invest in out-of-the-box software as well as a custom solution.

Let’s say you need a CRM Software, and one day you receive an email from a vendor who promises to deliver a bespoke product for USD 3,000. If prior to that, you’ve already spent some time exploring software dev prices, you know that such a cost is too good to be true. It’s way too low for a custom CRM, and such an offer is an obvious scam. But if you’re new to the software development market and know nothing about the pricing, you might agree on such a tempting price and lose the money in the end.

How To Apply It To Software Vendor Evaluation?

Browse the web to find out what is the average price for your particular solution and how high are average software development rates. During the interview process, ask a potential vendor about the cooperation model and request an estimation. Receive several estimations from different providers and compare them. Don’t go for the cheapest option but also don’t be afraid to ask for ways to cut costs if the budget is tight. A trustworthy vendor will suggest cheaper alternatives (it might be MVP creation, a different tech stack, etc.).

Read Customer Reviews But Don’t Rely On Them Fully

A survey by Gartner claims that 17% of buyers willing to obtain a software solution use review platforms as their preferred channel of getting info about the product. 73% of the responders find reviews and ratings either very important or moderately important. But is it the smartest idea to trust online reviews when it comes to software development?

Well, it’s a double-edged sword. Customer reviews are important, there’s no doubt about that. Should you read them? Yes, you should. But those shouldn’t be the key factor that makes or breaks your final decision.

How To Apply It To Software Vendor Evaluation?

Start by searching for general information about the vendor. The more details you’ll find, the better. The more various sources will have that info, the better. If all the reviews you could find are available on a couple of platforms (e.g., the company’s website and some kind of online listing), that is a red flag. There’s no guarantee the reviews you’ll see will be real.

Look at both customers’ and employees’ reviews, as the vendor’s corporate policy will have a direct impact on the quality of the software. If former staff members have nothing bad to say about the company, that’s a good sign.

Ask the vendor for testimonials. It’s great if the reviews have either the person’s name and position or a link to their social media. That means the testimonials are trustworthy. If upon your request, you’ll receive a doc with an anonymous text, it should give you pause for thought.

Ask For An Action Plan

The software development market is highly competitive, so you should be prepared to receive hundreds of offers from vendors who are “ready to create software for you.” Luckily, there’s a surefire way to determine which providers are worth your attention and which you should brush off from the get-go. And that is asking for an action plan.

How To Apply It To Software Vendor Evaluation?

Set up a brief online meeting with a potential vendor, answer all of their questions regarding the project, and then ask the person you’re talking to if they’re able to tell you how exactly the development process will be going. Ask as many specific questions as you want. Inquire about the ways to resolve particular challenges you’re facing.

It’s ok if the vendor doesn’t have all the answers right away. They might need time to investigate the requirements. Still, the potential provider should be able to give you a step-by-step implementation plan that takes all of your preferences into account. If all you get as an answer is silence or “we’re going to do it, we have the expertise, trust us,” don’t even bother to continue the communication.

Try Out Different Communication Methods

Choosing a software vendor always implies pretty intense communication with the company’s representatives. It can be either a project manager (in case of building a custom solution) or a personal manager that will help with the deployment and post-launch maintenance (in case of buying an out-of-the-box product.)

Either way, it is essential for an entrepreneur to make sure the vendor is an easy and effective communicator.

How to apply it to software vendor evaluation?

See how long it takes for the provider to answer your messages via multiple communication channels. Do they answer your emails right away? Is live chat on their website helpful? Are they ready to use your preferred messenger? Are they ok with establishing an online meeting schedule that works for you?

Evaluate the vendor’s flexibility in terms of communication. Your comfort should be the provider’s priority.

And, of course, check how productive first calls or video chats are. Do you get all the info you need? Is there a language barrier? Are you happy with the overall tone and presentation?

Remember, software development/maintenance isn’t a short-term process, it will take quite some time. So feeling comfortable while communicating with the vendor’s representative is super important.

Use The Software Vendor Evaluation Checklist

This one is easy. Create a checklist containing all the criteria that are important to you, and check the boxes for each vendor you find suitable. There are more than 24 million developers in the world right now, and finding the “perfect match” might take some time. To give you something to begin with, here are the top 10 questions for the evaluation checklist. Feel free to augment it if you feel like it.

  1. Is this a real company with proven experience in software development?
  2. Does the vendor obtain the necessary industry expertise?
  3. Is there a portfolio and real-life customer reviews?
  4. Is the offered price adequate? Does it fit my budget?
  5. Can the provider set up comfortable and effective communication?
  6. Does the vendor understand what I want to achieve? Do they have a vision/plan for the project’s implementation?
  7. Does the provider take into consideration my suggestions, worries, and desires?
  8. Is the potential cooperation process transparent?
  9. Is the vendor ready to sign all the required legal documents (a contract, NDA, etc.)
  10. Do I get answers to all of my questions? Am I happy with those answers?

To Wrap It Up

We hope that this short editorial was helpful and that now the evaluation process will be a bit less stressful. Remember that finding the ideal vendor at the first attempt doesn’t happen very often, so don’t feel discouraged. We’re sure you’ll find your perfect software provider who will help your business grow and flourish! Good Luck!

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