How to identify Current Problems with Your Software Vendor

From the Series: Avoid Mistakes When Buying Any Software or Cloud Services

Current Problems & Issues - IT Help Desk & Customer Service Software

Whitepaper Series: Avoid Mistakes When Buying Any Software or Cloud Services

This whitepaper is part of a series to help avoid mistakes that even the most senior and experienced professionals make that cost companies a lot of time and money. Now, learn to approach the software and cloud services buying process in a much more rigorous and analytical manner.

Key Point: Identifying Current Application Issues and Problems

  • Hire consultants/technical experts, if necessary.
  • Call current vendor CEO. Prepare a detailed list of issues.
  • Proposal to fix? Cost, timeline, guarantees?
  • Need upgrade, bug fixes, new hardware, reimplementation?
  • Less expensive vs. buying a new system?
  • Check signers will not easily throw away software licenses (advantage of cloud services)
Before you begin documenting feature needs and requirements for a new call tracking system or any application, it is important to thoroughly understand why the current system is not working well. We suggest that you play the role of an outside consultant with no agenda. Do not begin with the premise that all your problems will be solved with a new call tracking system. It is more important to understand exactly what is wrong with the current system and determine if it can be fixed.
Carefully probe the pain points of the current call tracking system with all the stakeholders. Is it properly configured and customized? Have company requirements, workflows and processes changed over time? Was the system initially set-up correctly? Has there been significant employee turnover with the team responsible for configuration and customization? Your company may need the newest release with bug fixes; new, more powerful servers; new functionality; or a major new release with an entirely new reimplementation. If required, consider hiring consultants to help you better understand the more technical aspects of the configuration and customization.
If the call tracking system was developed internally by your IT staff (i.e. it is "home grown"), then your company has to consider if it has and desires to spend internal resource on an ongoing basis to maintain the application. It may make good business sense to purchase a commercial product and deploy scarce internal resources on more core and critical company functions linked to revenue generation. Giva has an outstanding white paper available entitled "Build or Buy a Call Tracking System." This can be downloaded from the white paper section of the Giva web site. The benefit of all this discovery work is that you will gain insight into the feature needs and requirements of your organization. If certain features are not working or do not exist, then you can begin to prioritize requirements.
As part of your analysis, we suggest the following strategy--it has worked for many companies we know. If the product your company bought has not been working correctly, then call the CEO of the vendor. The size of your company and the size of the vendor are irrelevant. Speak with whoever answers the phone in the office of the CEO. You may have to leave voicemails and send a few emails, but demand timely attention. Let the vendor know that your company is very dissatisfied with the vendor's product.
If the vendor has a strong culture of customer satisfaction, then by calling the CEO, the vendor will quickly understand your dissatisfaction. You will probably not get to speak with the CEO, but you will get important visibility. Calling lower-level people such as your account manager/sales person will not be as effective. Be prepared to provide a detailed list of what is wrong with the product. Highly effective and successful CEOs like to hear customer complaints because it gives them a perspective that they will rarely get from the sanitized information provided by subordinates. In fact, CEOs often have a channel set up to monitor these inquiries over time to make sure that subordinates are properly handling your concerns. If your problem list moves from the office of the CEO to the appropriate internal channels with the message that this came to the CEOs attention, then you can be assured you most definitely have the attention of the people that can actually help you. They may or may not actually address your concerns. If you do not hear back from someone at the company within say a two weeks, then you know that they do not value your business and it is time to seek out another alternative.
Take a few moments to reflect on the check signers with the longest tenure in your company. What are their reputations for spending money? Are they spendthrifts with company money? Probably not! Perhaps it is annoying because they are so loath to spend company money, and approvals for purchases require significant analysis. They are value-seekers and guard company resources just like the resources were their own money. This is why the company has given these check signers a lot of responsibilities. They are not going to throw away traditional software licenses unless there is a compelling cost justification. However, if you can demonstrate that the current system can be replaced with a superior system at a lower total cost of ownership, then this economic analysis is self-evident and check signers will authorize this purchase.

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