Buying off-the-shelf software checklist

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Buying off-the-shelf software checklist

Not all these issues may be important to you but working your way through them will help you to make your choice.1 (Your purchase contract and service agreement with your IT vendor should include answers to these questions.)






Does the company that developed the software have a lot of customers?






Are we a pretty typical customer? Is the software used by other organisations in our sector?






Have other customers given positive reports of this product?






Is the price affordable?(start up and ongoing costs)




Is its navigation system similar to other software we use?




Will our data be safe?




Does it have the features we need?




Will we make use of any extra features (which weren’t on our must-have list)?




Is the software easy to use? Can we trial the software with some key people from our organisation in a ‘dummy run’?




Will the software integrate easily with existing systems?




Is there free support available with the software? (Support could be human or provided through an automated search engine, or both.)




Is the support, free or charged, easy to access and available promptly?




Is there likely to be a need for a great deal of ongoing technical support that might make you dependent upon this company or is there other assistance available through other providers?




Does the software come with free training such as seminars or webinars?




If the software is hosted by the company, does it have an uptime of 99%?2




Does the company regularly update its software?3




Think about the layout and navigation - does the software ‘feel’ familiar?




Does the provider have good safety features, such as password protection and the ability to detect hacking attempts?




Is data backup frequent enough for your business needs?




  • 1.

  • 2. It is critical that your software be available at all times – this is called the ‘uptime’. Uptimes are covered in the service level agreement and range from 98-99%. Look for a minimum uptime of 99%.
  • 3. You can find this out by looking at their company newsletters and website.