What to Ask Before Purchasing Software

Make sure the pros outweigh the cons when purchasing new software for your business.


1. How will I improve efficiency with this software?
Find out how the software’s features can streamline your business. “Our software, for instance, reduces re-keying of data and the associated cost in time and loss due to errors,” says Tom Pawlowski, president of Precise Software, which offers the Impress business management program (shown on page 54). “Order status is at the user’s fingertips so he isn’t running around the shop looking for it.”

2. How will this software help me generate more revenue?
“You want the software to open the door to multi-channel selling,” Pawlowski says. For example, “Impress offers e-commerce integrations and remote order processing.”

3. How do I learn this program?
Ask about the best way to learn the software program and the time commitment you’ll need to make, says Gene Feil, president of Dalco Athletic, which offers StockStitch 6.3 monogramming and lettering software. “Ask if the vendor offers one-on-one classes, phone instructions or an online tutorial,” he explains.

4. What type of support is provided?
Feil says it’s also important to ask what kind of ongoing support the vendor offers. “Find out how they charge for it as well,” he adds, “and ask about the upgrades that they make available.”

5. What’s the total cost of ownership?
Finally, ask about the complete cost of ownership, says Scott Allen, president of InkSoft, which offers InkSoft Professional software for business management, online design and web stores. “Find out about any possible hidden fees and costs associated with usage,” he says.