4 Things Buyers Wish They’d Known Before the Software-Buying Process

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As you approach the end of your software-buying process, here are four tips based on what other buyers wish they’d known.

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Purchasing software is a big decision, requiring money and time. Because this purchase is such a big investment, many buyers worry they won’t make the right decision.

If you’re new to the software-buying process, it can be especially hard to know what all you should consider before purchase. But even if you’ve gone through the software-buying process several times before, it’s helpful to hear from other buyers and learn from their experiences.

4 final considerations before purchasing software, from buyers who’ve been there

That’s why we asked other software buyers what they wish they knew before their purchase. Some explained their biggest regrets (and how to avoid them). Here’s what they said.

1. Consider the customer support level you’ll need after purchase

Shayne Sherman, CEO of TechLoris (a blog dedicated to PC issues), said, “Not everyone is going to offer tech support. One of the ways a company cuts cost is through offering a product sans service support … chances are you’ll run into a problem you aren’t prepared to deal with and if support isn’t built-in, you’ll have to pay extra for that. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just get the more expensive software?”

Software vendors offer different types of customer service options, from conversations with real people to online self-service forums. Some vendors provide a full range of customer service options to all customers, while others incorporate varying levels of service in their pricing plans or as additional charges.

It’s important to anticipate the level of customer support you’ll need once you own the software.

Check with vendors before purchase and ask how they handle customer service to make sure they provide options you like and that fit your budget.

You can also learn how others have experienced customer service from a particular vendor by reading reviews on Capterra. Look for service ratings and comments that address the quality of service provided.

2. Find out the total cost of ownership before purchase

Andrew Elhert from Maine Marketing Association said, “We were fine paying the initial monthly fee, but we soon realized we would have to pay even more every month for many different features and to have our entire team using the software.

Sure, you might know the base price to purchase your software, but do you know the cost of extensions, integrations, your service contract, and all the other add-ons that pop up during the software-buying process?

You need to determine the total cost of ownership. That includes how much the software costs to obtain, implement, and maintain.

Ask the vendor about their pricing tiers, what’s included with each one, and what features or services (such as customer support or installation) are sold separately.

Many vendors offer discounts for those paying annually (instead of monthly) or for nonprofits, so ask about ways to reduce the price.

Accounting for the total cost of ownership, decide in advance the maximum price you’re willing to spend on this software and if you’re willing to adapt your budget to find the perfect fit.

3. Budget extra time to set up your new software

Elhert also said: “When you see a demo for a software [product] the company makes it seem so easy to set up and to use, but this typically isn’t the case. With [new software we purchased] we were told the setup would be quick and easy for our team. However, this wasn’t true. We ended up spending weeks to get the entire platform set up correctly, and it was an overall difficult process.”

Setting up software may sound easy, but it’s often more difficult than it appears. And whether the software you’re getting is cloud-based or on-premise, you’ll also need to budget time to get adjusted to a new system.

The best way to overcome this obstacle is to ask the vendor what installation, training, and onboarding support they provide.

If they charge extra for these services, factor that into the total cost of ownership.

If your organization has an IT department, make sure they’re involved in installation and training discussions, as you’ll likely need their expertise and support when setting up the new software.

Be sure to also budget time for your team to adapt to a new software. Even with great training, it takes time to adjust to new processes. Accept that there will be a learning curve and modify the team’s short-term expectations accordingly.

4. Know when and how to cut ties with a vendor

Benjamin Walker, CEO and founder of transcription services company Transcription Outsourcing, said, “We’ve [bought] software that we eventually [found] out is way overpriced or doesn’t do as much as one of their competitors in the same space for the same price. Know all the options, know all the prices for every add-on before committing, and know-how you have to notify them if you will not be renewing.”

Some people have regrets after their first foray into the software-buying process. But don’t lose hope if a certain software product ended up being more expensive than originally planned, too difficult to implement, or too confounding for your team to adopt efficiently.

Even if the software you chose didn’t end up being the perfect fit, chances are it does most of what you need it to do. And now you have a better idea of what you need.

Remember that you can always switch software providers at the end of your agreement, and you’ll walk away with more experience.

A stronger sense of your software needs and experience with the buying process will make it more likely you’ll find a great option next time.

Learn from others who’ve been through the software-buying process before

Ask others in your professional network about their experiences buying software. Whether colleagues at your own company, others in your industry, or friends in other lines of work, you can learn a lot from hearing stories about what worked well (or didn’t) from other people.

You can also learn a lot from reading software reviews on Capterra’s product pages. Capterra reviews feature the reviewer’s job title, industry, and company size, as well as star ratings and in-depth commentary. Many of these reviews include ratings or commentary about the considerations covered here (customer service, costs, setup, and decision making).

By finding reviews relevant to your job and industry, you can trust the reviewer’s perspective and look for more targeted commentary that speaks to your considerations.

For more guidance on buying software, check out these articles:

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About the Author

Kristen Bialik

Kristen Bialik

Kristen Bialik is a senior specialist analyst covering customer experience for Capterra. She holds B.A.'s in English and Communications from the University of Michigan and an M.A. in Journalism Research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Follow her at @kebialik for insight on CX for small and midsize businesses.

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