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Industry Specific Versus a Large Install Base: What's More Important?

Published on by Eric Janke

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Are you looking for a software solution that’s designed specifically for your niche industry? Do you also want a program that has the largest possible install base to ensure supportability? In an ideal situation, the answer to both questions is likely yes. But in the real world, these two goals are often in opposition. The question is: How do you find the right balance for you?

Important factors to consider when evaluating software options

The software your company chooses will depend on the size and scope of your current operations, but also how you expect to grow. Equally important is what role you expect the program to fulfill for your company. Some business owners want their solution to only address their back office needs. Others are willing to invest more to obtain a comprehensive system that not only provides adequate financial reporting but also has integrated features for scheduling and tracking their day to day tasks.

The software industry has responded to the large variation of businesses and the vast differences in the requirements they have for software. Before comparing the advantages of industry specific software to systems with a broader industry focus but larger install base, it is important to understand how software is commonly sold. There are larger software development companies who have established a network of value added resellers (VARs) that sell programs designed to serve a variety of industries. There are also smaller developers that focus on a particular niche market. And then there is almost every combination in between.
We can help identify what options are available but deciding what possibilities to pursue will rely on how you view the advantages of each option. Below is a list for your consideration.

Advantages of an industry specific solution

  • The representatives of an industry specific solution will have an intricate understanding of your operations and will have features that directly apply to your operation.
  • You have everything you need in a one program and you can go to a single company for support as the need arises.
  • Direct integration between modules so related fields can be auto-filled without a need for duplicate entry
  • The software representatives can provide you with references of similar companies that have successfully used their system.

Advantages of a large install base

  • When hiring new staff there is a greater possibility they have experience with a system that has a large install base, this means less time and money spent on training.
  • The software company would have a larger support network available.
  • The software developer is likely more financially stable so there is less chance of the system being discontinued.
  • The company will likely have a clearly defined migration path so it is easier to switch to a more robust version if you company experiences significant growth.
  • The product may have additional modules that allow it to be used by a variety of different industries so if your business ever expands into new revenue streams it may have modules you can simply add on without missing a beat.
  • There will be more reviews and opinions publicly available about the advantages and disadvantages of the program.
Eric Janke

is a Project Specialist at Software Connect. He's been helping software buyers make informed investments in business software since 2007.

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