Key Questions To Ask Software or Cloud Vendors

What questions should you ask vendors to determine their true character?

Here are 10 groups of penetrating questions to ask Customer Service and IT Help Desk vendors to determine their true character.

Ask these questions early in your qualification process to focus on the vendors that will be there for you long after they have your company's money.

Use these questions to poke and prod at your long list of vendors, and then listen very carefully when they speak. What you learn will save you a great deal of time and money. Make sure to get their responses in writing!

  1. After my company pays for your software licenses, what if we become dissatisfied for any reason? Perhaps the product does not work as demonstrated or promised. What will you do?
  1. What if better technology comes along after we purchase your software licenses? Perhaps your company is not keeping up with evolving industry standard enhancements. Are we stuck with your software licenses? Can we trade in your software licenses and receive a pro rata cash refund to purchase a product that meets our evolving needs?
  1. How quickly can we be up and running on your product? Does it work "out of the box"?
    Will it take a week, a month, a quarter or six months or longer to deploy? Will you provide an implementation plan in writing and commit to it? Who will initially pay for set-up, customization and configuration costs? Who will pay these costs on an ongoing basis? Do we need to learn a programming language to administer and customize your product? If so, what is the approximate size of the developer community, and what is the average hourly rate?
  2. Please prepare an estimated Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of your product over four years. Consider all the acquisition and lifetime costs of ownership. Document all your assumptions; and we will provide you with our assumptions for the analysis, as needed. How does your product TCO compare with the other companies we are evaluating? Are training, set-up, customization, configuration, support, integration and any usage fees all included in this TCO?
  3. What exactly is included in annual software maintenance? Will we receive major releases or just bug fixes and minor enhancements? Can you please show us exactly where this is documented in your Software License Agreement?
  4. Of course, we hope that we do not have to do this, but my company may want to cut costs in the future by not paying your annual software maintenance. Our CFO is concerned about commitments for ongoing fees. Can we stop paying software maintenance any time we want, but continue to use the software licenses? Do we need a license key from you each year? What happens if we stop paying annual software maintenance, and then we want to start paying again to obtain support? Do we have to "back pay" all the fees for software maintenance we did not previously pay?
  5. What is your roadmap for future product development? How can my company be assured that you will deliver on this roadmap? What are our options if you do not deliver?
  6. If we have a support issue that requires some reconfiguration, does your company charge professional services fees for this work, or is it covered under routine support?
  1. We will probably learn a lot about your product after using it for the first six months or even a year. If we want to do additional customization and configuration work after the initial deployment is completed, does your company charge professional service fees for this work, or is it covered under routine support?
  2. Does your company provide Respond and Resolve Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for support service requests that your company is committed by contract to meet? If so, how can we measure if your company is meeting or exceeding these SLAs? Can we terminate our contract if your company does not meet these support SLAs? Is there a clause in your contract to allow termination for material breach of support SLAs? How do I get support? Do I have to send an email, open a web request, or can I call your company and speak with a live person? What are your standard support hours? Do you offer extended support hours for evenings, weekends, and non-USA regions? Is there a fee for this?


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Compare BMC Numara Track-It! vs. Giva


Replace Numara Track-It! help desk software with Giva Cloud Computing

Save money with Giva SaaS Has your organization outgrown Track-It!? We know that you need to measure the IT help desk performance with metrics, charts and graphs to reward stakeholders and take action when necessary. Our visual tools allow you to analyze data and proactively highlight trends and patterns early on.

Each report features our Giva Easy Three-Click Reportingā„¢ engine that allows you to quickly build standard and completely customizable Report queries.

  • Intuitive human friendly Report user interface
  • Export Reports to AdobeĀ® PDF (with color output) and CSV file
  • Email Reports on-the-fly
  • Schedule Reports for automatic email delivery
  • WYSIWYG browser printing

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View IT Help Desk Reports, KPIs & Metrics examples

Eliminate BMC Service Desk Express Upgrades & Maintenance


Replace BMC Service Desk Express with Giva Cloud Computing

Save money with Giva SaaS Is the very high cost of BMC Service Desk Express consulting, upgrades and software maintenance not in your IT budget?

With Giva, BMC Service Desk Express customers on average experienced a:

  • 60% decrease in TCO
  • 90% decrease in implementation time and cost
  • Eliminated servers, software and upgrade costs
  • Decreased headcount required to maintain service desk application

Get a quote from your BMC Service Desk Express consultant and then contact Giva.


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View IT Help Desk Reports, KPIs & Metrics examples

Eliminate FrontRange HEAT Upgrades & Maintenance Costs

Replace FrontRange HEAT with Giva Cloud Computing

Save money with Giva SaaS Is the very high cost of FrontRange HEAT consulting, upgrades and software maintenance not in your IT budget?

With Giva, FrontRange HEAT customers on average experienced a:

  • 60% decrease in annual TCO
  • 90% decrease in implementation time and cost
  • Eliminated servers, software and upgrade costs
  • Decreased headcount required to maintain service desk application

Download this business case that compares Giva to FrontRange:

Business Case to Replace FrontRange with Giva Cloud Computing

Eliminate FrontRange ITSM Software Upgrades & Maintenance

Replace FrontRange ITSM with Giva Cloud Computing

Save money with Giva SaaS Is the very high cost of FrontRange ITSM consulting, upgrades and software maintenance not in your IT budget?

With Giva, FrontRange ITSM customers on average experienced a:

  • 60% decrease in TCO
  • 90% decrease in implementation time and cost
  • Eliminated servers, software and upgrade costs
  • Decreased headcount required to maintain service desk application

Download this business case that compares Giva to FrontRange:

Business Case to Replace FrontRange with Giva Cloud Computing

Maintenance of the Knowledgebase is Critical to Success

Click to download a White Paper on Knowledge Base ROI

Plan to have dedicated resources such as knowledge experts to build and maintain the knowledge. Regular and timely maintenance of the knowledgebase is critical to success. Be sure to build in a mechanism that identifies gaps in content (information sought but not found), and a process for filling those gaps. If people repeatedly fail to find what they are looking for they will stop using the system.

KM requires cultural change

You will need buy-in at all levels, and this may require cultural change. The people that are going to use the tools have to be part of the design. Do not make this management decision in a vacuum. Include some people from the various groups that will directly or indirectly use the system.

Sometimes staffs have a fear that management will use the knowledge management process to replace people. If your staff thinks that is what you are trying to do, then you really need to address that head-on. Once you convince your team that current head count reduction is not the goal, you need to look for and plan the motivation for each party. After all, you are asking people to shift from a system where being a tower of knowledge is rewarded to a system where they share their expertise with everybody. Each party will have a unique motivation to embrace knowledge management. For example, your frontline tech will have a different motivational schema than your third level technician. The frontline tech is not going to have to ask the second line tech as many questions, and can resolve more problems faster. The second level tech is not going to get as many of the common questions. Level 3 researchers will not have to start at ground zero when handed a problem by level two, because they know Level 1 and 2 have covered all the intermediate steps. Therefore, as you look across the company everybody has a different interest and you have to protect all of them. Failing to see how knowledge management is going to fit in to the rest of the organization is really a mistake. You must invest the time and energy to understand the culture, identify motivations and ensure change happens where needed.

Champions are important

To be successful, your knowledge initiative must have several champions within the organization. These individuals believe in the initiative, enthusiastically advocate it and have the influence to "make things happen." Initiatives that have no champion generally do not get off the ground. Those with one champion are at serious risk. Losing your champion can spell disaster for you project.

This is a real problem for knowledge management initiatives, due to their typically long duration. If the initiative champion transfers, retires or leaves the company, initiative often loses its momentum and the initiative may falter as someone else takes it over. What knowledge experts like to see is a dual sponsorship: one at the operational level and one at the executive level. Therefore, if an operations manager decides the company really needs knowledge management, that manager should find somebody on the executive staff that will agree to support the vision. By having that dual track of vision, the initiative is less likely to derail.

Click to download a White Paper on Knowledge Base ROI

How to Start Using a Knowledge Base for the IT Help Desk

Click to download a White Paper on Knowledge Base ROI

Many people think knowledge management is just software but it is much more than that; knowledge management is a discipline.

Knowledge Management is a discipline that takes a comprehensive, systematic approach to the information assets of an organization by identifying, capturing, collecting, organizing, indexing, storing, integrating, retrieving and sharing them. Such assets include (a) the explicit knowledge such as databases, documents, environmental knowledge, policies, procedures and organizational culture; and (b) the tacit knowledge of its employees, their expertise and their practical work experience. It strives to make the collective knowledge information and experience of the organization available to individual employees for their use and to motivate them to contribute their knowledge to the collective assets.

Create a process change management plan

You will need a process-change management plan because you are asking people to do their jobs differently. The plan specifies how you will gain acceptance of knowledge management within the organization. Let us say you are a service desk manager and you measure your employees by call handling time and number of cases closed. Now you are going to be asking them to use knowledgebase on every call they take, every e-mail they answer, and so you are asking them to change the way they earn their living on a day-to-day basis. You are going to also ask them to share their knowledge through creating knowledge articles. If you do not also make changes to their performance reviews and compensation, then there will be friction because you're asking them to do one thing but you are judging them by another set of rules. As part of the overall plan you need to update job descriptions, feedback sessions and performance reviews to reflect the new workflow. Neglecting to make these changes is likely to create friction.

Where and how to start

We advise that you pick one area that needs real improvement or has limited resources, and then build a robust knowledgebase for that subject matter. A good place to start is to look at past incident history. What are the most common types of incidents? Which incidents take the longest time to resolve? Which ones would be easiest for customers to solve themselves if they had answers that they could understand? Use that experience to learn about implementing knowledge in your organization; do one topic or one product group and learn from there. It is much better to be comprehensive for a narrow topic than fail to get enough depth. Sometimes an enterprise initiative is needed right away, and it can be done successfully, but it is a bigger resource commitment to do a bigger project all at once.


Click to download a White Paper on Knowledge Base ROI

Build vs. Buying-Cloud Based IT Change Management

Here are the Top Ten Reasons You Should Purchase a Cloud Based SaaS Change Management Application vs. Build In-house:

Change management demo:

Reason Ten: The product already exists and you won't have to spend time, money and political capital negotiating with a development executive to liberate already scarce resources.

Reason Nine: The vendor you choose has an understanding of how Change Management works and best practice requirements. Developers don't always have this understanding and explaining it to them can take time, and time is money.

Reason Eight: Almost all commercial Change Management applications can be purchased in modules. You can add and delete modules based upon your business needs and budget.

Reason Seven: Commercial Change Management applications can be easily customized to meet your operation's unique needs. You won't get this capability in an in-house product without a great deal of extra work and time.

Reason Six: The product you purchase will have voluminous documentation that is both technical and end-user oriented. It may even have remote video learning and will certainly have on-site as well as off-site training programs available to train your staff. An in-house product will rarely have such documentation.

Reason Five: The documentation and training will be at least three times better with a purchased product than it will be with an in-house product. You will not have to compete with the internal documentation and training staff that get paid to serve paying customers.

Reason Four: You will have access to patches, updates, user groups, updated documentation, and technical support when the product is released and when you need it.

Reason Three: No matter how good the training, and no matter how great the documentation, sooner or later you will need to call the vendor's technical support. This need usually arises at the worst possible time and inevitably involves a customer. Developers are busy people and you have to ask yourself if the in-house developers will be available when you need them. Most vendors have support open 24/7 and are literally waiting for your call.

Reason Two: Updates. A purchased product is continually updated, debugged and readied for your immediate use. With an in-house product your staff will usually be debugging the update after it is installed. This is not fair to your staff, your customers, or your boss.

Reason One: You can purchase, train on and implement a purchased product in a fraction of the time it takes to design, code, document, train on and implement an in-house product.

A software development project can easily take on a life of its own and by developing an in-house product you are competing with paying customers. Unless you work for one of those unique companies mentioned earlier and unless your IT team can command the resources it needs, when it needs them, the chances are that in-house development will be prohibitively costly, time consuming, frustrating to train on and difficult to implement.

Why Use IT Dashboards for the Help Desk?

See IT help desk & customer service dashboards: 



A dashboard is an extraordinary tool, one that provides a single,

easy-to-understand view of critical business and operational data. But going

far beyond data, a dashboard helps managers focus on the things that matter,

giving them the information they need to effectively monitor their company's

performance - and take action.

Do you know how your organization is performing right now?

Can your managers and employees link their day-to-day work and job

performance to your company's key objectives?

Dashboards make these things possible. And today's advanced

dashboard-building tools make it easy to deliver dashboards across your

enterprise. The benefits are extraordinary:

* Dashboards highlight business metrics that are critical to your

organization's strategy. Improved visibility helps managers focus on key

initiatives. And better insight into business information makes it possible

to make smarter decisions and, ultimately, improve organizational


* Dashboards give you the ability to closely monitor key performance

indicators (KPIs). Critical business data is presented in easy-to-understand

speedometers, dynamic graphs and tables. Stoplights and alerts tell you when

performance is above, on or below target. And because information is

presented against time (instead of a snapshot), trends are more visible.

* Dashboards are the key to performance management. No matter what

performance management methodology your company uses, a dashboard can be

built to support it. Strategy-focused dashboards can be deployed throughout

the organization, improving performance by putting powerful analytic

functionality in the hands of business users.


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Build a Business Case To Purchase a Help Desk-Check Signer Pain

IT Help Desk Cloud Computing– 4 Sources of Check Signer Pain




Giva can help you build a business case to present to your CIO, VP Customer Service or Executive Director/Technology Committee to authorize a purchase of help desk or customer service software. We have some valuable tools to do this; and we have the expertise to help you build a business case that will justify a purchase, if really needed. Sometimes a purchase is not needed. Folks think that they need a new application when what they really need is just some new processes and procedures. Giva can help guide your company in this decision.


Click "Download White Paper" to read more about how to determine if Check Signers have significant pain.

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