In addition to my role as president of LISTnet, I run a software and technology consulting company. As a consultant, part of what I do is help people find the right software to run and grow their businesses. There are a lot of things to consider.
What technology is the software built on? How scalable is it? Is there good documentation and training? How does this fit into the rest of the technology the company is running? Will it be running in the cloud or on site? How will it be managed and updated?
Those and other requirements are crucial to evaluate. There is, however, another very important consideration. It’s easy to fall in love with the technology and be wowed by the latest and greatest features. But the most critical factor is the people that will be doing the work.
It’s important when looking for technology solutions to get to know the actual people behind it. Are they reliable and trustworthy? Will they be there for you if things go wrong? Who are the people running the company and what’s their background? Will you be able to reach an executive or developer if necessary?
One of the biggest benefits of LISTnet is getting to know people that can help grow your business. When you need something, you have a network of people to reach out to. Also, these people all have a bunch of connections themselves and can connect you to reliable vendors they work with.
Of course, not everyone is part of LISTnet, yet, so you should get to know vendors in other ways. The best way, if possible, is to meet in person. Have lunch with them. Don’t just talk about the business stuff, but get to know them. If in person is not possible, spend some time talking by phone or Skype.
Ask to talk to other people in the company. Talk to the people that wrote the software and the people that will be supporting it. Talk to a few of their customers. Talk until you have a good sense of the people and factor that into your buying decision. Also, a good relationship flows in both directions, make sure you follow up on any promises you make.
The right tech helps a business serve their customers better and grow. But it’s people that create and manage the technology. Those people will be the ones that make the difference between a solution that works and one that creates problems instead of solving them. Take some time to get know the people you will be depending on.