How To Buy Landscape Business Management Software Part Four: Deployment

This is the fourth, in a five post series written to help landscape contractors buy landscape business management software.  You can see part one here , part two here and part three here.

Software Deployment Is Hard. The Goal Is To Make It Easier.

Deployment and software installation can either be a nightmare or just a hard slog.  There is no easy way to trade out one system for another without experiencing a learning curve.  The goal is to minimize the pain and duration of that curve.

What you need to know from the software vendor is the truth about this challenging but essential process.  What kind of deployment support and training will they provide and what does it cost…  and how will they manage your learning curve?

Questions you should ask during your selection process.

  • What are some of the changes we will have to make given how we used to do things?
  • How will it change the way I do business?  
  • What systems that now cost me money might go away?
  • Will we have to run systems in parallel?
  • Who will be our point person to guide us and answer questions?
  • How long – realistically – will this take?  Best case and worst case?
  • How much bandwidth will we need on our end – as our people are already busy?
  • How much of our existing data and history can you convert?
  • For that which is not converted, how will we handle it?
  • What are the key areas where in your experience the deployment can go wrong?
  • How much time will you spend training us?
  • How will that process work?
  • How will we set up our reporting to get the information the way we are accustomed?
  • What is follow-up training like after the deployment?
  • How do we/you train new people as they are hired?
  • What if we are not happy with the deployment?  What are our options?
  • How do we stay on time and avoid schedule slippage?

It’s Important To Have A Clear Software Deployment Plan And Process

Deploying software is a huge business interruption…  so be sure you and your vendor have a plan to minimize that pain and lost productivity while making certain the software is set-up the way you want to look at reports.

How To Buy Landscape Business Management Software Part Three: Support

This is the third, in a five post series written to help landscape contractors buy landscape business management software.  You can see part one here and part two here

The Importance Of Landscape Business Management Software Support

You do not want to purchase software and (a) use it incorrectly, (b) use less than half its features, or (c) have to keep using your old spreadsheets.  The vendor you go with should offer preemptive support to help you get the most from your software.

It’s hard to change – no doubt.  But change you must when you purchase business ERP software.  Your reports and processes no matter how inefficient are habits.  Habits are hard to break.  Great support helps you form the right habits to efficiently use your software.

The term “support” can be used as an ambiguous catch-all phrase.  There are many flavors and types. Does “support” mean, email, phone (recorded or human), forums, knowledge base, other? Make sure you understand all the support options being offered and are comfortable with them.

Support Questions you should ask during your selection process.

  • How will we learn how to use it?
  • Do you have a user’s manual?  
  • Do you have training videos?
  • Do you have user support groups?
  • Strong Software Support Is Important

    Strong Software Support Makes A Difference

    Do you come to our place to train us?  Or is it all done remotely?

  • Who does that and how often do we see them?
  • Do you have a support center?
  • How does it work?  Phone contact?  Web contact?  Both?
  • How much does support cost?
  • How long does it take to get a response?
  • If I cannot get a good response, how do I speak to a supervisor?
  • How much training is involved?
  • How are new releases trained when the software is upgraded?
  • Do I have to pay for that?
  • What are some of the issues that other people have experienced in training?
  • How did you address those?

Strong Landscape Business Management Software Support Makes A Difference

When you think about it, why would you buy anything as complicated as business management software without an owners’ manual and a support life-line to help you make the most of your investment? 

Great support cuts through complexity and helps you get the answers, assistance and results you need in the most efficient way possible.

How To Buy Landscape Business Management Software Part Two: Cost

This is the second, in a five post series written to help landscape contractors buy landscape business management software.  You can see part one here.

What Should Your Landscape Business Management Software Cost?

The cost of software is not just the quoted price tag.  Without knowing all the cost details, you can pay too little as easily as you can pay too much.  That’s because software is relatively inexpensive to write, but very expensive to support for the software company.  Your cost is like an iceberg; most of it is below the surface.

“Price is what you pay.  Value is what you get.”  – Warren Buffett

Questions you should ask during your selection process.

  • What is included in the quoted price, and what is extra?
  • What additional costs might I incur for hardware and servers?
  • money costWhat additional costs might I incur for support?
  • Are there additional costs for upgrades or new releases?
  • What is your product plan for upgrades over the next two years?
  • Will I need to add staff to manage your system?
  • What set-up costs might we experience in addition to the quoted price?
  • Will I be charged for on-site training visits?

It’s Important You Understand “The Real Price” Of Your Software

Every software company must price for current staffing to support the software, as well as future costs to keep up with client needs and changing technology.  Make certain you understand the real price.  

Finally you need to consider the Opportunity Cost of not purchasing… 

Ask yourself, How will this landscape business management software help my landscape company make more money?”

Besides the expenses, also get a handle on the return on invest you might expect.  Any vendor must justify their price in terms of dollars gained for dollars invested.