Why and How to Research a Manufacturing Software Vendor

Why it is Important

One of the most critical parts of evaluating the best manufacturing software for your business is evaluating the vendors that you may be working with.  Imagine installing the software package that you believe to be perfect for your organization, training your staff, and “going live” with the new package when out of nowhere some glitch in the software renders the software, and your entire business operations for the time being, useless.  What do you do?  You call the vendor for support.  If you’ve done your homework and have a quality vendor, you should be up and running again in no time.  However, if you chose the software without researching the vendor, you could be in for a big, and expensive, surprise.

There are a number of steps that you can take to ensure that you’re working with a quality vendor before finding yourself up a creek without a paddle.  Here are a few tips for researching your next manufacturing software vendor:

Getting Started

Start by looking at the product vendor’s website.  Look around for how many versions of the product they’ve released and what improvements were made with each version.  Check to see what levels of ongoing support they offer to companies that use older versions of their software.  This will give you a good idea of how you can expect to be treated when you decide not to upgrade your system to their newest version down the road.

Next, do some online searches for the vendor and the software package that you have in mind.  Check news stories and articles for red flags like lawsuits that the company is involved in, recent changes in ownership, or a series of bad reviews from other users.  Lawsuits and ownership changes could point to instability within the vendor’s organization that may leave you without support in the future.  Check for recent reports of product support after the new ownership took over to see if improvements were made or if the company is moving in the wrong direction.

Finally, use your networks to get as much information about the product or vendor that you can.  Talk with colleagues in the industry that you know use the same system or vendor and ask about their experiences.  You can also find good information in online communities, like forums or social networks, that focus on the manufacturing industry.  There, you’ll be able to ask questions and get responses from people that have experience using the software you are considering.  Additionally, the product website may have an online support forum.  Look around in there for common issues that people encounter as well as the timeliness and helpfulness of the site’s administrators.

The bottom line is that you need to do as much research as you can on your potential vendor to avoid pitfalls down the road.  Good support is often found to be more valuable that good software.  After all, what good is the most high-tech software if you can’t use it?

David Kraft is a freelance author that writes about numerous subjects. He specializes in manufacturing software and writes tips for business owners looking for advice in selecting their next package. Check out his erp software comparison site for more info.

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