The Right Software Solution for you

By: Sandra Rodrigues

The Right Software Solution For You
Selecting any software, will depend on the size of your company, your experience, cost of software, etc. Salesmen, glossy brochures, online demos, company response times, colleagues/peers will further influence you choice.

Commercial Software

  • Licences may cost according to implementation/installation type, user access type, number of users, software functionality, or a combination of some or all
  • In return you expect regular software updates, telephone/email support, access to a community of users, access to a knowledge base, ability to report faults and to request enhancements, etc
  • Select your supplier carefully


Free Software

  • Open Source Software: will be provided under the (in this case, 'Free' is closer to 'free speech' rather than 'free goods'!). Open source is normally associated with GNU/Linux, BSD, Solaris, Mac OS X. But there now plenty of Open Source software for Microsoft Windows. Though you may be able to get help at forums, you may need to pay for expertise if you don't have it.
  • Free 'Lite' Versions of Commercial Software: These are normally limited functionality in some way: (you can't import, print, export, …). Alternative, all the functionality will be there, but you would be limited to the number of records you can deal with. Support may not be provided or may be limited.
  • Personal Editions: These are provided free for personal use but not for commercial use.
  • Trial Versions: OK, it's not 'free' but the trial period will help you decide if its worth paying for without spending a penny/dime. Depending on the providers marketing strategy, you will normally get one month's free trial.


Take into consideration (generally and in no particular order)

  • what platform and configuration does the software need to run on?
  • do you need expertise in-house? If not, then do you have access to it?
  • your own experience - are you/you company new to this?
  • take salesmen's promises with a pinch of salt - they normally normally get paid for selling
  • have you considered an online solution? you don't have to worry about hardware, networking, installation, maintenance and other activity
  • a champion may be needed within your company
  • don't forget backups
  • what are the on-going / annuals costs?
  • use / create comparison charts for standard and non-standard features
  • exactly what training is required, for which staff, during what times and at what costs?
  • remember its easier to justify expenditure during the initial purchase
  • similarly, its easier to negotiate a better deal before you sign on the dotted line
  • are there software demonstrations available? Even better, trial versions
  • is it possible to carry out a phased implementation?
  • what support/help you you get?
  • what documentation will be provided? Online FAQ's & knowledgebases?
  • references - any established supplier should be able to provide you with references who are able to tell you about their experience with the supplier and system
  • the system is flexible
  • what additional software (not provided by the supplier) will you need to buy/install
  • does the system have 'add-on' partners?
  • did I mention backups? - make sure you test your backed up data regularly as you wouldn't want to find out your backups are 'pants' just when you need them!
  • what is the vendor (software creator) like? Remember the supplier may be gone in another six months.
  • scrutinise any SLA's (service level agreements) to ensure you will get what you are paying for.


from RCS Limited, an Company.

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