Susan (the fictitious school nutrition director we met over the past several weeks) was extremely successful evaluating school nutrition software by looking at her needs, the alternatives, and the features. However, she has yet to take the time to explore what software company is the right fit for her program. It is important for Susan to investigate all aspects of a company, as this is the only way to make an informed decision. To learn everything there is to know about a company Susan compiled a list of questions by which she will make her evaluation.
What is their product focus?
Susan believes it is important for her software to have a K-12 focus. If the company she is evaluating also has products in other industries she won’t know whether they are truly devoted to her sector. Her worry is whether a company not solely focused on K-12 will be able to provide her all the enhancements and features she wants and needs. She trusts that a company with a K-12 focus will understand the industry and meet her expectations.
What is their recent trend in innovation?
Choosing a complacent software company is not an option for Susan. She needs a company that is constantly innovating and improving their product. A business that is always striving to be better than before will bring her program the newest, greatest features. To decide whether a school nutrition software company meets this expectation Susan will look to see if they have made improvements in the last 3, 5, or even 10 years. If they haven’t, then they are not the ideal company for her school nutrition program.
Have they had recent acquisitions?
Acquisitions are a big part of the business world, but they worry Susan when it comes to her new software company. Organizations that have recently undergone an acquisition tend to have multiple products and not a singular focus. This essentially means that they will not be solely focused on the product being provided to Susan’s program. Furthermore, acquisitions make product futures unclear because Susan does not know which products they will continue to build and which they will retire. Susan is afraid her software could be discontinued meaning she would have to change products and endure many transitions in a short period of time.
How much industry knowledge do they have?
As mentioned earlier in this post, Susan wants a company with sole focus on K-12 school nutrition. Susan expects if you go with a company that has a singular focus they will be more likely to know the industry in and out, something she requires from a potential company. She intends to verify their knowledge by asking in-depth questions during demos. These questions will range from regulations to features and much more. In Susan’s eyes the industry knowledge of a company directly correlates with their passion. If a company is passionate about their industry then they will provide their customer the best product possible. In short, Susan wants a company that truly cares about K-12 school nutrition.
How good are their references?
Susan firmly believes that a software company is only as good as its references. Therefore, her decision rests heavily on the references provided by the company. Susan looks for references that match the size and scope of her organization because this indicates whether the software company is capable of handling a large job like hers. Furthermore, references allow Susan to trust that a company is reliable and has sufficient experience, an important aspect of her decision making process.
After evaluating all of these important questions Susan will feel informed enough to decide which software company best fits her needs. It is crucial to take everything there is to know about a software company into consideration before making a commitment. After making such large monetary and time investments you want to be 100% confident in the decision that you made. When your district is evaluating software companies, what steps do you take to learn more about them?