Software Buying and Selling Takes Time
posted on December 30, 2009
…and lots of it, especially when using the “I can do this on top of everything else” approach. You’re right, you can. In fact, it may all turn out just fine in the end. But consider this quote for just a moment…
“If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it’ll start taking more of our attention than it deserves.” – David Allen
This post will begin dialogue on a key component, YOUR T-I-M-E, to determining if your business should search for software solutions internally or outsource this task – call it a TIME cost:benefit analysis. In many ways, this is similar to deciding whether to purchase a proprietary client/server software application or pay an ongoing fee for a Saas (software-as-a-service, aka hosted) solution. In fact, as a business you have probably already made other similar decisions, such as hiring vs. contract labor, buy or rent office space, and so on. These are tough resource management decisions!
But here’s the question…considering the last time that you completed a business software search and purchase process, approximately how much TIME would you estimate was invested? As you consider an honest answer let me provide a broad list of common actions in the software search process:
- Discovery: Business issues assessment (aka Needs Analysis) – at least I hope you do this.
- Discovery: Explore (research via various information sources) potential solutions.
- Collaboration: Open dialogue with software vendors, call references and/or like-kind entities.
- Collaboration: Information sharing such as documents, features list, pricing, etc.
- Collaboration: Product demonstration(s), maybe even try a 30-day trial.
- Negotiation: Discuss purchase requirements, review agreements, request a proposal for product(s) and consulting services, etc.
- Purchase: Finalize pricing and agreement terms, agree on Statement of Work, send money!
OK, trust me when I say that these bullet points are very broad and yet represents a standard software search process. This ALL takes TIME…and lots of it. Are you ready now to provide an honest answer? For purposes of this post let me offer some observations based on experience. Admittedly, I have no scientific study support for this but I believe a standard software search will require a minimum of 50 hours from start to finish. Yes, I said a minimum, and that’s only your TIME. Does this surprise you? Do you agree? Strangely, this even applies to those searching for low end business software solutions. Of course, I’m excluding those folks that quickly buy something low cost online or stop by the nearest retails store to buy Sage Peachtree, Intuit QuickBooks, or something similar. These types of purchases are outside the scope of this discussion.
In summary, software buying and selling is time consuming, albeit necessary in the life of a business. Of course, keep in mind as you consider the information within this post that TIME is invested by the buyer (internal resources) AND usually multiple product salespeople (external resources). In some cases, software consultants get involved to help with technical matters and demonstrations. In larger purchases, TIME is required of lawyers, procurement managers, independent consultants, and so on. After all, most buyers want their business software purchase to be a 5-7 year investment, so you can believe they’re going to take precaution and work the process until they are completely comfortable proceeding.
What are your greatest TIME constraints today? Do you have a 2010 plan (or resolution) to improve on these? More specifically, as you consider the possibility of your next business software purchase, will you take on the project internally or consider outsourcing the project? If the latter, reach out to me for a complimentary consultation and we’ll discuss the possibilities. Until then, I welcome your feedback.
Author: Keith German
Tags: Business, buying, Consulting, needs analysis, outsource, purchase, resouces, selling, Software, system requirements, Technology, time management