So who will install your software? It’s a question every buyer will face. Some businesses have teams whose sole job is handle new software projects. Perhaps you do too. If so, you know that adding software is much more than popping in a disc. It’s a bit of a process. There’s planning, customization, setting up hardware, and training. You may even need to take extra steps to convert your old data. Or you may have to create the right data links to make sure your new software talks to existing software. This article is designed to provide you with a quick overview of the various implementation support services available to you.
Because adding new software doesn’t happen very often, many companies don’t pay to keep experts on staff… and that makes sense. For many companies, it’s simply less costly just to bring in the experts as needed.
Hiring experts to set up the software is a decision companies make for two very basic reasons:
Some buyers might see that there is an advantage in using expert help, while wondering if the benefits outweigh the costs. After all, knowing that there may be a better way and knowing if it’s worth the cost are two different things.
Poorly set up software can cost you money. How? Well, any worthwhile software should save you money by automating repetitive tasks. Missing chances to automate means performing timely manual steps instead. Every time you take those manual steps, it costs your business money. Worse yet, the answer to increased efficiency may be hidden in plain view. It may be right in the software you’ve already paid for!
Let’s break this down to the numbers. Imagine you purchase a very straight-forward product. The software install doesn’t require a lot of customization, integration, data conversion or training. Let’s also imagine that the experts you’ve hired share with you just one single useful tip. Let’s even imagine it’s something that saves just two hours of labor time a week. Over the course of the year, saving just one or two hours weekly could mean saving $2600 yearly. It looks surprising on paper, but 2 hours over 52 weeks at even just $25 hour in labor costs add up to that. When you do the math, the potential costs of not using experts can easily start to pile up.
Now imagine what using expert advice means to you in the real-world. You’re likely to be talking about automating much more than a couple of hours a week. Over the lifespan of your software, picking up a couple hours of efficiency here and there can save you tens of thousands of dollars. Many firms will hire help simply to avoid being pulled away from their daily work. But, clearly, another big reason for hiring outside help is to keep your bottom-line costs down.
Experienced buyers say that access to good support is the single most important factor in picking the right software. A few years back one our software partners shared an interesting study with us. In the study, two groups of buyers rated their top software selection criteria. The first-timers said that expert support was only the 5th most important factor. Meanwhile, the experienced buyers, said that nothing was as important a decision making factor as having quality support --not even price. This may surprise some buyers, but it makes sense to us. We’ve helped thousands of companies find the right software–and, yes, we have heard some horror stories along the way about implementations gone wrong. We hear them mostly because these are the same companies who come back to us, needing to re-invest in software again, to address a situation they thought they had already dealt with.
Few business decisions impact your financial processes and operations more than the decision of which software to use for your core accounting system. There are great sources online to find out how things have gone for new users of software–and to research the impact of assisted versus independent implementations. For many products, you’ll even be able to find forums dedicated to community discussions related to getting the most out of the new product. These are excellent sources for researching the impact of receiving assistance with your implementation. While every situation is different, one piece of advice that is always worth heeding is to do your homework.