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How to Be a Better Software Buyer

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By Doug Coull

Disrupting the Software Buying Process

I want to disrupt the way many people go about selecting business software, and more specifically applicant tracking systems. I want to show people a way to choose, maintain and optimize their software investment by thinking of new ways to understand the process from start to post-purchase. In the many years, I’ve worked with clients and prospects, I’ve learned a great deal from them about buying habits, including misconceived perceptions that lead them down the wrong path.

What is too commonly practiced is that people start out believing they need to divest themselves of their current system and purchase a new one, and the interesting part is they probably don’t have a business case to do so. This belief is usually the result of one or more of the following factors:

  • poor communication between the end-user business and the software provider
  • a lack of understanding about the software they currently have (moreover, this problem most likely began on day one of the purchase)
  • new management’s desire to change providers because of a past relationship with another provider
  • the lack of a business needs (gap) analysis

Of all the factors listed, lack of a needs analysis is the most critical and the most difficult, because it’s the foundation upon which well-thought-out considerations and decisions should be made. Important business decisions should always be solidly grounded in facts and evidence rather than supposition. Each company needs to understand their processes, culture, location, hiring needs and environment is unique to them and use this knowledge to critically evaluate software to fit their business goals.

When it comes to considerations and decisions, it’s important to look at things that require taking a deeper dive into the workings of the software provider. This action does not mean sending in a standard RFP to a laundry list of vendors (some of which that will not be qualified) and asking them questions that they’ve answered hundreds of times for other companies. Some vendors will basically “copy” their answers from previous RFPs and send you generic responses. This is not helpful and will not get you the information you need. Understanding the value a new system will bring, to your unique business and how it will solve your unique problems, is much more important than having a standardized checklist of questions that may not be pertinent to what you need and ultimately not serve you well in the end.

Software ownership is not easy when you start off with a poorly structured strategy, so getting off on the right foot prior to the buying process and being able to successfully carry this strategy through post-purchase, will garner you results much more in-line with your actual business requirements.

I’ve written a business guide that offers a roadmap of what you need to know to get the most out of all phases of being a software owner. Though the guide is written about applicant tracking software, the principles in the guide apply to any software purchase. You can pick up your FREE copy to software-buying success by clicking Get My Guide.

About Doug Coull

Doug Coull is the founder and CEO of APS, Inc., makers of SmartSearch talent acquisition and staffing management software. Doug founded APS in 1986 after a successful management career in the contract engineering industry. A leader in technology development for over 30 years, Doug brings a unique perspective to the development and user adoption of software and technology in the HR community. He attended Augustana College and the University of Minnesota. Doug lives in North San Diego County, California.

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