Part 1 – protecting your company’s investment
Selecting software for your business can be a minefield. Based on his 25 years’ experience in the industry, George Troullis provides his top tips for selecting a new system for your business.
1: Who else can support me?
Nothing is certain in life and no one, no matter how astute, can guarantee the future of their company. The same applies to software houses and you need to make sure that if your chosen supplier goes out of business, discontinues support on the ERP system that you have bought, fails to provide the ongoing service that you expect or just falls out with you (or vice versa) that you have independent, alternative points of support. Contact the alternative point of support and confirm that they would be happy to look after you if the need arises.
The more support companies you identify the better. The size of your supplier’s balance sheet may provide some comfort on this issue – but in reality they can still be acquired just as easily as some of the independent merchants reading this article. In the last decade, I can think of several well respected software houses that have either gone bust or been acquired by much larger organisations.
2: Subscription or Perpetual
There has been a trend for software suppliers to supply software under a subscription (or licence to use) basis. In essence this means that a proportion of the annual support or maintenance fee is mandatory if you want to continue using the software beyond the anniversary of your support contract. If you don’t pay this element, then the supplier can switch your system off or even have an inbuilt automatic switch that will disable the software in some manner.
Perpetual licenses are provided on the basis that no matter what happens between you and your supplier, you have bought the right to continued use of the software. Make this point a fundamental question in your selection and if unsure make sure that it is stated, clearly, on the contract the basis on which the software has been supplied. Simply ask “is the annual fee mandatory?”