For the past several years, I've seen countless small businesses waste enormous sums of money trying to find the perfect vertical software application for their particular industry.
Let's look at some evaluation criteria for a new industry-specific software application your firm is considering purchasing.
In addition, find out how the software compares to what you've come to expect as standard amenities from software programs -- such as importing, exporting, context-sensitive help, pull-down menus and toolbars.
So, before you get all excited about some slick marketing presentation you saw at a trade show, a glossy direct-mail piece that landed on your desk, or a persuasive trade magazine ad that caught your eye, be sure to perform some due diligence on the software vendor and its product.
Once you're satisfied that the proposed industry-specific software program is technically sound, consider the program's business value. Turn the program over to a few representative users in your company. Ask them to evaluate it from the standpoint of solving specific business problems.
In managing these pilot tests for small businesses, I've seen abysmal results when doing technical evaluations of proposed purchases of industry-specific software. So, rarely does software even get to the stage of end user business value testing. However, it's much better to find out if the program is a dog with fleas before you've written the nonrefundable check to the software vendor.
Tip:Need help sniffing out the stench of a 16-bit impostor? In many versions of Microsoft Windows, the Processes tab of the Windows Task Manager yields big clues. To reach the Windows Task Manager, press Ctrl + Alt + Del and select Task Manager. On the Processes tab, red flag any occurrences of WOWEXEC or NTVDM. Also be wary if the Setup program won't install to a folder with a long file name, greater than eight characters - another telltale sign of 16-bit relics.
There are many niche software applications on the market that can produce excellent return on investment (ROI). However, don't write that big non-refundable check for a new software application until you've done some serious tire kicking. Use the tips in this article as your software purchase due diligence checklist.