Five Questions Your Software Provider Hopes You Won’t Ask

Five Questions Your Software Provider Hopes You Won’t Ask

Software companies love to talk about their products. They’re less forthcoming about their organizations.

Businesses need to pay attention to the corporate health of their software providers. Frequent changes in ownership and structure can affect a vendor’s priorities, including products and services. It’s a disruption businesses don’t need.

Check for signs of instability by asking your software provider a few reasonable questions.

What’s the five-year roadmap for my software system?
Vendors create roadmaps when they care about the future of a product. If your vendor has one for your current system, they plan to continue improving it for the foreseeable future. If your vendor doesn’t have long-term goals for your platform, then it isn’t a priority for them and they may be planning to retire it.

What was the turnover in senior management over the last ten years?
Changes in leadership undermine a business’s stability. Each new executive means a new vision for the company’s products and services. Frequent turnover may also signal internal problems. Executives may be leaving quickly because they don’t like what they see.

What’s your company’s financial health?
Tech companies with lots of debt have a tendency to reorganize. This includes selling under-performing divisions or agreeing to an acquisition by another firm. If your platform is part of the deal, the future becomes uncertain. The new company may continue to support acquired platforms, or it may decide to retire some of them and force those customers into changing software.

What’s the average tenure of your support staff?
Mastering an entire business system takes more than a few weeks. Technical professionals need years of experience with a system to effectively support its users. Frequent turnover among support staff means a company isn’t building the deep expertise it needs to help customers.

Where are your development and support teams located?
This isn’t just about outsourcing. Companies that base departments in different cities or states break up the product cycle. The people who create software are totally isolated from the people who use it. Programmers create software that makes sense to them, but doesn’t meet customers’ needs.

These questions are pointed, but reasonable. Instability in your software vendor can impact their products and your business. If your vendor’s future is uncertain, start considering your next move.

Wondering about the future of your software? Take a few minutes for a quick self-assessment. Our guide can help predict if your system will need to be replaced within the next five years. 


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