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Selecting a new software vendor

A change in vendor status is one reason a company may decide to shop around for a new accounting/business management software solution. Another reason is often that your company may simply be outgrowing its current accounting program.

Seeking the best vendor

If you are considering changing your business management software, you will of course want to study closely the various systems available. You’ll want to pay particular attention to features and benefits of the programs, particularly as they relate to your organization’s specific needs.

You’ll also want to learn a great deal about the proposed program vendor. Here are some key considerations to study about the vendor (there are, of course, other feature-related facts to consider regarding the software itself):

  • The financial vitality of the organization. How long has the vendor been in business? How large is it in terms of number of employees, annual sales and bottom-line strength? Is the company considered a market leader? Have you heard of the company before? Would your colleagues have heard of the company before?

  • Product scalability. Does the solution that best meets your organization’s needs have the ability to scale up, that is, can you add users over time? Does the solution also present the ability to scale out, or, are add-on modules available for greater use and functionality? Keep in mind that you want to make sure your software not only solves today’s problems but will support your business in years to come.

  • Support options. The best companies provide a variety of training and technical support options, again with the aim to answer your questions when you have them. Explore what options the company has to assist with: product implementation, data transfer, product training, business management training, ongoing technical support and other areas.

  • Future oriented. Is the software vendor a forward-looking company? Is it researching and developing new technology and/or new ways of doing things? Can the company clearly articulate its technology vision for the construction industry in the next six months? Year? 10 years?

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Information is the key

How can you find out information about a vendor? Here are some ways:

  • Contact the company and ask to speak to an account representative.

  • Visit the company’s Web site.

  • Read industry publications.

  • Ask local and national construction publications for recommendations and contacts.

  • Ask construction colleagues what accounting software they use.

Remember, when thinking about changing accounting systems, the program is important, but so too is the company backing it up.

Reprinted from the January 2002 issue of Constructor magazine. Constructor is the national magazine of the Associated General Contractors of America. For more information, visit AGC Web site.

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