Choosing technology solutions for your small business can seem like an overwhelming task given the number of vendors out there. Cutting through all the ‘’sales talk’’ and marketing hype can be difficult, especially if you don’t have a lot of knowledge personally about these sorts of things. Here are some helpful tips to wade through your option and find the vendors that best meet your needs.
Clearly Define Your Needs
Before you begin your search, it is important to clearly define your particular needs. It is not enough to simply make a general determination you need a certain type of program. Lists can be very helpful, with one delineating the features that are absolutely essential for your workload, and then the features that are not imperative, but perhaps ‘’nice to have.’’ This will give you a solid foundation on which to start your search.
Consider the Focus of the Company
Most technology vendors offer an array of products, but may really focus on a few core programs. When choosing a vendor, make sure the program for which you are searching is one of their core offerings. You don’t want to partner up with them, and then shortly down the line, they decide they will no longer be selling a particular type of product or to sell that division to another vendor.
Hopefully, lots of growth is in your future; when choosing vendors, you don’t just want to think about your needs in this particular moment, but what your needs may be down the line as your business expands. Consider whether a particular vendor has the capability to grow with your business and offer the support necessary. Ideally, they should be able to meet these new, unexpected needs within a month or two, at the most.
Price is always a core consideration when making any sort of purchase for your business. But, it is important to not let it be the determining factor. You need to do your homework to get a solid idea of the total cost of ownership. You must look beyond this initial price for things such as licensing fees, additional resources that must be acquired to manage this new technology, operational costs, fees for in-person training, support fees, set up fees, annual maintenance fees and document management services to name a few examples.
Different industries all have their own unique needs, requirements and workloads. Look for vendors who have clients in businesses similar to yours. On a related note, when following up with current customers (which is something not enough businesses do), make sure you are talking to at least a few who are in your industry. This will give you the best idea whether this vendor can meet your needs and solve the challenges you face.
The success of your business is dependent on having the right technology to run your operation and serve your customers well. This is not the type of decision you should rush into; take your time evaluating your options. Take advantage of demos, and don’t hesitate to ask the vendor any and all questions you may have.
Kelli Cooper covers all things business and tech; she recommends learning more about http://www.togglebox.com/ for your cloud computing needs.