buying business software

Tips for Buying Software for Your Business

Most businesses use software to run one or more critical parts of its operations. As a business owner, you are well aware the process of choosing the ‘right’ product can be daunting. And there are scores of products and options available, and, many consultants, analysts or partners who, for a fee, are prepared to help you shop.

In this article I will focus on just two words: customizable and configurable. In your quest to find the ‘right’ software for your business you’ll see and hear them as you scan specs or listen to sales presentations. I urge you to gain an understanding of what they mean. Doing so is key to understanding the software you’re buying, and how it will work for your business today and in the future.

CUSTOMIZABLE is often used where the intended meaning is, adaptable, scalable, extendable, or flexible. But the key point about customizable software is that it requires “custom work.” And what does that mean? Plain and simple: it means to customize it you will need to have a software programmer write new code so it will do what you want it to do. The questions now become, who is going to do the programming? How long will it take them? And, what will it cost you? Plus, the new “custom code” they write today may work just perfectly, but five years from now – after you have updated the base system, and/or changed any of the other modules or integration applications ... well, who knows how it will all fit together and how much it will cost in the end.

CONFIGURABLE also means adaptable, scalable, and extendable. The big difference is that it is flexible because settings are controlled, not by writing new software code, but by clicking and selecting a few buttons found within the software. The task is fast, easy and logical. Plus, the issue of how to ensure the changes made today will work well into the future, rarely if ever arises. Why? Because the base system version of the software is continuously maintained and upgraded by the software vendor.

When you’re researching new software, choose configurable, not customizable, products.