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Meeting your potential software vendor? 5 things you need to bring up

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Whether its on-premises or SaaS, choosing which software to invest in is a big decision for any business. Researching through to purchasing can and should be a long process, as making the wrong decision could have far-reaching consequences.

In order to avoid costly mistakes, the initial meeting with a software vendor is a good chance to delve deeper into both the software and the company selling it.

What happens to your data if you want to leave?

There may come a time when it will better serve business interests to leave one software vendor and move on to another. Its important to understand what will happen to all the data that has been built up using the software. Some software vendors will charge large amounts of money in order to release the data to make businesses think twice about leaving them.

Its also worth noting that in order to fully protect data, its important to have a software escrow agreement in place with an independent third party in case your software vendor goes out of business.

What are their credentials?

How long has the software provider been in business? Do they have any certificates from partners relevant to the solutions your business wants to implement? Requesting to see which other organisations similar to yours have previously purchased their software can be helpful.

Data security is also of key importance, especially if you are purchasing SaaS. Make sure you get a clear picture of the policies the software vendor has regarding data protection. In particular, do they meet any security standards, either generally or specific to your industry – including your businessinternal policies.

What kind of support do they offer?

Understanding the scale and range of the support they offer and how it would work for your business is an important part of choosing a software vendor. Do they work the same hours you do? Do they operate a call-back system rather than answering the phone to you straight away?

Choosing a software vendor should almost be seen as choosing a business partner – choose a vendor whose practices align with yours.

Does the software offer scalability?

Growing businesses have changing software needs. Would the software be able to cope with business expansion 3 or 4 years down the line? Sourcing and changing to new software because of scalability issues should be avoided so business time isnt wasted.

Do they have a disaster recovery plan?

If the software vendor does have a disaster recovery plan, ask whether it is tested on a regular basis. If there were to be a disaster, its important that your recovery point objective (RPO) is near real time – or real time.

Making sure you have a comprehensive SaaS or on-premises escrow agreement is key to ensuring business continuity is not affected by business downtime or data loss if the software vendor goes out of business for any reason.

Ensuring the right software vendor is chosen can help to protect against things such as lost revenue, application downtime or brand damage.

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