Question

What do you look for most when buying new software—and what would be a dealbreaker that would keep you from using an app?

When you’re buying software, what are the core things you look for? Mobile apps for personal use, or import/export tools to move between software easily? HIPAA or SOC2 compliance for your company? One-time licenses or monthly plans? Support options? Sales calls?

What are the make or break things that would make you skip over using a product that otherwise looked good and pick something else instead?

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ConorMurch's avatar
2 years ago

From my perspective of a Sourcing Manager, the core things our IT team looks for:
-Experience (Ease of Use, User Interface, Integration with key enterprise platforms)
-Pricing
-Scalability
-Out of Box Functionality
-Support (Throwing Account Management in here)

Security has never really been a deal breaker for the companies I have worked for. I've never run into a SaaS platform that we really wanted or needed that was stopped by our security process, that I have worked on. It has been a concern, but it didn't stop a deal as worked through it.

Deal Breakers:

From a technical/functionality standpoint, I think this depends on the size of your company, and the other comparable products in the market. How do they stack up when thinking about the points I listed above?

Internal Software that your company is currently developing: Consume what you make. I've seen times where the question has been asked, why aren't we using our own tool? Why would we consume something else?

Strategic Partnerships/Organizational Positioning. Organizational alignment with key strategic partners (if you have them) in my experience can play a huge role in selecting another software. Specifically, a reciprocal deal. I buy your stuff, you buy my stuff. These are typically done at the highest of levels, and for various reasons.

Contract Language/Pricing: Contract Language and pricing typically start off as a deal breaker, but usually end of getting resolved. I'll still throw it on here. The biggest point of contention I've seen with contracting is the requirement of term for convenience. The ability to get out of a multi-year deal so allow the buying company flexibility with its commitment to the supplier. This is typically pushed when you have a net new software that you're looking to buy at a longer term (2 year or 3 year) deal. The reasoning behind this is often times (many times) i've seen organizations go for longer terms only to realize that the solution isn't a fit for the organization...and you're stuck with a bill and 0 value.

7 points
fhiguera's avatar
2 years ago

depends on where and how we will use the tool. I opt for monthly plans for the first 90 days to allow people to adapt to the tool and get us generous feedback before committing to longer terms. Once the tool is adopted and widely used, then we switch over to an annual plan and negotiate better pricing (the worst they can say is no, so why not trying to get a better deal).

4 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @fhiguera )
2 years ago

That's a great strategy to use monthly plans first. Have you had any products where you were able to negotiate better deals than their default annual pricing?

1 point
fhiguera's avatar
@fhiguera (replying to @maguay )
2 years ago

Yes, we did it with Invision, Jira, and we are working on Azure DevOps as one of our clients is a Big Microsoft client and they are moving all their infrastructure to Azure

2 points
jpridgely's avatar
2 years ago

Coming from a ~100 employee startup these are the primary factors I consider:

Vendor considerations
- Pricing flexibility. While the absolute pricing of an agreement is important it's also vital to have the ability to control your spending when things change. Seat or usage-based models can ramp up cost as you grow vis-a-vis a fixed/long-term contract, but the ability to control spending is highly valuable.
- Contract flexibility. This was important before COVID but now it's critical. We have materially cut our software spend in the last couple of months and having the ability to pause or get out of a contract altogether is valuable and something I'll take with me in my career as a permanent lesson learned. One example, I reluctantly agreed to an 18-month software agreement in October because "there was no way we won't be using this software going forward", then six months later the person who said that to me was no longer with our company and we've since stopped using the software.
- Support. If there's an implementation lift on our side then ideally I want to see robust support on the vendor side.
- Trial or test period. I can't think of a reason why I wouldn't want a trial period for software, though sometimes this has to be negotiated through a cancellation provision a month in or something similar. Seeing how your employees use the software and at what level is critical before agreeing to a longer-term contract.

Internal
- Do we really need the software? It's not uncommon to have individuals within the company push hard for software because they are familiar with it from a previous company or have been sold on the utility by the vendor. We've almost gone forward with big contracts only to ask at the last moment, "who will actually use this software day-to-day, and is it critical?"
- How it will be implemented? Who will be managing the implementation on our side? We got into trouble previously signing up for Looker not fully realizing that implementation on top of our messy data was going to be a lot more resource-intensive on our side than we anticipated. Consulting add-ons from the vendor can work but in this instance, we vastly underestimated the internal resources required for a quick/smooth launch.

2 points
NBNite's avatar
2 years ago

Our evaluation process shares a lot of similarities with many of the responses on this thread; if I had to put them in order, it would look something like this:

1) Functionality - does the tool accomplish what we need it / fix the issue at hand?
2) Ability to integrate - does the software integrate with our other tools? Is it a native integration or does it have an open API and connect with the Zapier's/Integromat's of the world? How robust are the options within that connection?
3) Support - Phone, email, chat, community forum, Slack group? Where can I connect with support if/when I have questions?
4) Scalability - is this a short-term fix or can this tool grow with our company/workflow
5) Free trial - Can we test this product? For how long? Will support help during the trial run?

Deal breakers?
- A poor experience going through the demo/introduction/trial process. This is a place where companies should invest a ton of resources to ensure prospective users who are extremely close to becoming paying customers have an enjoyable experience. If this part of process is a problem, it's likely an early sign of how the company operates overall.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @NBNite )
2 years ago

Do you have any process for evaluating software's support offerings? That seems one of the trickier things to really know how it will work before you really need it.

1 point
NBNite's avatar
@NBNite (replying to @maguay )
2 years ago

I generally like to explore each support channel during a trial period to know what I can expect as a customer. What are the chat hours? Do I wait on hold for a long time when calling in? Can I choose to have an agent call me? How long does it take for email responses?

It is much harder to evaluate but the teams that do it best (ie. Hubspot) stand out vs those that do it poorly (ie. Ring Central)

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @NBNite )
2 years ago

Gottcha, those make sense. Definitely worth trying to check before committing to a product!

1 point
CookieDuster_N's avatar
2 years ago

Functionality. User interface and ease of use. Integration option with other tools. Price in comparison with other similar tools.
Those are the things I check most of the time. Deal brake, for me at least, is support ie how fast do they respond to a simple question even with automatic responses.

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @CookieDuster_N )
2 years ago

Support responsiveness is definitely crucial. What timeframe do you tend to feel is reasonable—within the day, or by the next day at least?

Do you tend to look for native, built-in integrations, or 3rd party API-powered integrations from tools like Zapier?

1 point
CookieDuster_N's avatar
@CookieDuster_N (replying to @maguay )
2 years ago

I thin 24h is enough to ship an answer. As for integration the more the better :-)

2 points
ankitpansari_'s avatar
2 years ago
  • Cost: Do they offer credits as part of a plan? If yes, can we get discounts?
  • Flexible Billing: We love monthly billing with a discount offered for an annual commitment.
  • Ease of Use: We didn’t want to waste time in managing and deploying the tools.
  • Lock-in: We wanted to ensure business continuity without any worry of getting locked into a vendor.
1 point
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