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Making the Right
Software Investment

Follow these guidelines to find software that fits your company's needs.
by Adam Kolawa, Ph.D.

July 13, 2005

There are many reasons why you might be motivated to purchase new software for your company. Maybe a part of your enterprise needs to run more efficiently. Maybe you are trying to improve productivity, customer service, or competitive rank in your market.

Whatever the goal and purpose of your software investment, your ultimate quest is to make a wise decision. I'll give you some guidelines that will help you search for software that fits your company's needs. I'll start with these three pieces of advice, which I'll expand on during the course of the article:

  • Explore and narrow down your options.
  • Assess your software of choice.
  • Avoid any chance of failure.

Explore and Narrow Your Options
You will have plenty of options to explore. Be aware that once word gets out of your need and search for software, you will be bombarded with information. The overload of information brings with it a couple of challenges. The first is sifting through mounds of propaganda; the next is processing and evaluating all the information that the salespeople ever so persuasively present to you.


When it comes to salespeople, let's face it. Their ultimate goal is to make a sale. However, keep in mind that they also want to make you—the client—happy. They want to help you attain your goal, with their software.

Salespeople will pitch their software in a way that best meets your needs. Furthermore, they can easily do so because software is not tangible. Instead, it is vague, which makes it possible for salespeople to strategically stretch its functionality. Software that doesn't quite fit your needs can be carved into a form that does. So when evaluating software, you need to ask yourself, "Does this software really do what I want it to do?" We'll touch more on this later.

Assessing Software
So, how do you determine whether software you are considering is capable of doing what you want it to do? There are a couple ways you can assess software to ensure that it will satisfy your company's needs. The first is developing a proof of concept, which is common, but not necessarily a bulletproof means of attaining and fulfilling expectations. The second is purchasing a trial version of the software. This is certain to open your eyes to whether the software you are considering will actually be used by employees and fulfill your requirements. I'll discuss both of these options.

It is common practice for companies to develop, evaluate, and test a proof of concept. A proof of concept is an electronic replica of an interface that reflects a desired design. It provides evidence that implementation of a certain business model or idea is attainable because the design concept is evaluated and validated.

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