8 things to consider before buying new software

So you need to choose some new software for your business. Where on earth do you start? And how do you know if you’re making the right decision?

There are lots of things to consider but it needn’t be painful. Here’s our checklist of eight things to consider before buying new software:

1 - Your business

When you’re on the hunt for new software, it’s easy to fall into the trap of looking outward first. Too many businesses jump straight into thinking about software and providers without being clear on what they need.

Start by looking inward - get clear about what you need and make a list of your requirements. Consider your business strategy and operating model, your plans for growth and longer-term goals. This will help you decide what you need the software to deliver, both now and into the future.

Don’t forget to also consider your clients’ expectations. Being clear on your advice model, your clients’ needs and the desired experience will help you select the right software to deliver all that.

2 - The software

When looking at the different types of adviser software available, look at its capabilities - does it have the breadth and depth of capability you are searching for? To gauge how suitable it is for your business, you should also consider if the software:

  • Supports the types of advice you offer.
  • Includes the quality and quantity of research and modelling tools.
  • Provides connectivity to product providers for data and applications.
  • Includes client engagement tools and portals.
  • Includes practice management functionality.

3 - The technology provider

Essentially, you are seeking a provider who will be committed to your business. Think about it as the start of a long-term relationship. You’ll need to know who you’re getting involved with and if they are the right match for your business. So take time to consider the providers:

Business viability

Is the technology provider financially stable and how are they structured? You’re after a provider that has strong foundations and one that’s easy to work with. You want them to be around for the long-term, well beyond your software implementation.

Experience

Do they have the right expertise and experience to support the complex and highly-regulated financial advice industry? You want a provider with specific local knowledge and global expertise, one that has been around long enough with the foresight to know your questions—and the answers— before you’ve even asked them.

Future direction

What is the technology provider’s vision for the software and its business? You want a provider who invests - both money and resources - into further software development. A provider should be able to articulate their future strategy, know where they are heading and have viable plans for the years ahead.

Approach to software design and development

Does the technology provider take a user-centred approach to the design and development of its software? Software that’s designed and developed in collaboration with real users means it’s more likely to work in the same way you do. It should provide a solid foundation for your business, complementing and assisting the way you work, every day.

4 - Open architecture

You may want the flexibility to connect other software (and create a tech ecosystem) for optimal workflows and data transfer. When selecting software, you want it to be open architecture so make sure you have a good understanding of the API capability of the software and the company.

5 - Data

Do you have a clear picture of how your data will be managed? All of your client data and documentation should be stored in one central system with full workflow management capability and comprehensive reporting making the responsibility of satisfying compliance requirements and managing risk easier. You also need to think about support, backup and recovery services which are just as important as the software itself. The quality and availability of backup and recovery can often be a concern and leave you wondering if you’ll be covered if and when you need it most.

6 - Support

What services and support does the technology provider offer? Set-up, training and ongoing support are essential. Choose a technology provider that will support you every step of the way and deliver dedicated implementation services, training and support such as:

  • Coaching and advice to ease the transition.
  • Help in preparing your data for migration into your new software.
  • Assistance configuring and customising your new software.
  • Access to a wide range of training content.
  • Responsive help-desk support with quick resolution times.
  • Access to experienced software consultants on an as-needs basis to ensure you are getting the most out of the software.

7 - Price

What are the initial and ongoing costs and what value will your software investment deliver to your business? While the bottom line is important, it should not be the sole factor. Be aware of waived start-up costs and reduced fees as these can come with long-term lock-in contracts. Always ensure you’re ‘comparing apples with apples’ otherwise, you’re at risk of making decisions based only on pounds and not the real value of the software.

8 - Do your homework

Doing your research seems like an obvious step, however, it’s often overlooked or viewed as too time-consuming. It’s simple to visit technology providers’ websites to gain an understanding of their capabilities and the range of software available. Better still, ask for a software demo and discuss your specific requirements so you get the answers you need to make the right decision for your business. Remember, no one knows the software better than the people who built it.




Find out more about Xplan, the award winning advice software for firms of any size.