These Items Are A Must Before Making The Decision To Purchase Any Off-The-Shelf Software
1. What determines the software price? Is it Per Seat or Per User or Per Processor?
The cost of software is determined in many ways. The two most popular ways are Per Seat or Per Concurrent User. Per Seat is determined by how many seats in your business will be using the software at any given time. On the other hand, Per Concurrent User is based on a set amount of users that can access the software at one time. (Example: concurrent users means a program with a license for 5 users can be installed on 100 machines but only a maximum of 5 people can use the system at once.) Per Processor is calculated on how many machines (PC's or servers) the software will be running on. Many larger enterprise software applications use this method to determine their prices.
2. What types of on-site services are included in the purchase?
Many programs that are higher in price should include some amount of on-site services or support. If it does not, ensure that both (service & support) are built into your contract before purchasing. But, beware that this is the area where companies make most of their profit. Some companies count on your returning with requests for customizations of the software. Now that you have the software and have spent significant time purchasing hardware and dedicating resources, they know you are already "half way in the pool"; they also know that you will have trouble refusing to pay extra money to get what you want. These services can include anything from training classes, customizations, or help with installation issues. In the case of local software companies, keep in mind they should automatically provide some sort of on-site services (at a minimum) before purchasing. This can only help to streamline your implementation process and increase the likelihood of your success, with the added benefit of a higher return on investment (ROI). Who wouldn't like to have that?
3. Is there a guarantee of satisfaction with their software?
This is most widely overlooked when purchasing software. Sometimes unsatisfied users will expect a refund after deciding that it is not what they want. My experience has been that once the developer receives payment for software, it can take next to a miracle to get a refund of any kind. Prior to purchasing your next piece of software, be sure to find out their return policy and number of days that you can have the software in your hands and still be able to send it back to get a full or partial refund. With custom-developed software it can be even trickier for the buyer, you will need to build this into the contract before work begins. It goes without saying how important it is to determine this up front in case you change your mind.
4. What is the turnaround time for getting "bugs" fixed?
Some companies will say that they will fix software issues as soon as you find one. There are others that will compile the list of "bug" fixes and release it on a scheduled basis convenient for them. This can happen either monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly or yearly. Neither path is better or worse, as long as you are dealing with a reputable software company that stays true to their word. Knowing this before purchasing the software allows you to better handle your software end-users and enables you to provide a more accurate time frame of when your users will see changes or have their issues resolved.
5. How often do program updates go out and do they notify customers?
This is another widely overlooked key item. There are two lines of thought that companies can use for updating customers. The company might decide not to notify its customers at all when updates rollout. They may think that if the customer has a problem they will contact them. At that time would they inform the user of an available update? Beware of this method of service, or lack there of. Steer clear of companies that do not provide this as an option to their clients. The second line of thought would be for the company to notify its customers regularly about updates. They may also offer an option of including the customer on a mailing list. In this case be sure that they have multiple contacts that are on the email distribution list so that everyone who should know will not be left out of communications loop. If the software company does not offer either one of these options, you might want to reconsider your decision.
6. Is the proposed software scalable in design?
Software that is scalable in design simply means that it can easily grow with your business, at minimal cost to you. Factors include end user customizations, current database structure, and inputs and outputs like reports, and connectivity to your other database systems. Scalability is very important for small businesses, because they are dynamic in growth. No one wants to jump through hoops of testing, development, customizations, and training, to purchase software only to find out a year later that you have outgrown it and you need to replace it. With proper planning at the time of purchase only you can increase your chances for a successful software experience.
7. Can the system be customized to meet your business needs?
If you require customizations to the software to meet a specific need, a good rule of thumb is that it should be no more than a 1/3 of the price of the software price. Never forget that many times software companies will negotiate with you on customization. As a customer any software company worth your time should want to keep you happy. In some cases there may need to be some give and take by both parties. A good rule of thumb would be to always discuss your needs with management directly. Gatekeepers tend to drag their feet at times. Purchasing software knowing that you will need to make major changes should be a sign that you really need to take a step back and look at all of your options including: in-house development, outsourcing, and partnering with software developers to cut the price.
8. What are the typical hurdles that you can expect with your planned installation?
No matter what generation (e.g. 1yr 2nd version, 10 yrs 4th version, etc?) the software is currently in, the software company should at least be able to warn you of the hurdles that they have experienced in implementations they have done. If not, this should raise a red flag for you. The software company should be keeping track of this type of information, especially if they are constantly attempting to improve their products. You will find that they sometimes run into the same issues 2 or 3 times before they take notice and take action to investigate and resolve it before future installations.
9. What are the hours of support and how does their support department operate?
Whether you are across town or on the other side of the world, if you need help and support is not available to you, the only option will be to take the system down for an unknown length of time and wait for help. Before getting married to a software company by purchasing their product, find out where the company is located and if the company has what I define as a "passive" or "active" customer support system. Follow up with pointed questions like, "Will you only return my call at certain hours of the day?", "Will I have to leave messages and wait at the phone for your callback?", "Will I have a direct callback from a representative or will I be reassigned to someone different every time I call?". Finding this information out earlier rather then later should give you peace of mind when an urgent situation or quick answer is needed.
10. Ask if there is a list of items that have been requested to be included in the next update of the software. If possible also request a date of completion for the items on the list.
Before they say no, put them at ease by letting them know that your goal is to find out what features they might be including so that you can plan ahead for your business. Chances are that if someone requested something, you will also be able to make use of this feature. Also obtaining this list will benefit you in three other ways:
1. If you know that a feature is forthcoming, you can notify users beforehand and seek feedback from them on whether this is something they would like also.
2. If the item on the list is something you need, be sure that you make it known to the gatekeepers, with emails or phone calls to the software company to ensure your item is not lost in the shuffle. This happens more than you may realize.
3. When you are given such a list, review it carefully. You should be able to determine the direction that the software company is going. Are they on a path dictated by their client requests? Are there frequently little items that are minor in nature on the list? (could be negligible depending on the application) or Are there obvious items on the list? (If this is the case their testing practices may need to be reviewed to your satisfaction.) Or are they adding items in an effort to get you to purchase add-on items that you will never use?
About The Author
Brett Johnson is the principal advisor for Johnson Advisory Group. His company specializes in providing impartial purchase assistance to individuals and businesses looking for software to meet their specific needs. Utilizing his insider's knowledge to ask the right questions, get the right answers, resulting in the right decision. If you would like to learn more about purchasing assistance for your business software and our supporting workshops or other technology services for your business, don't hesitate to contact Johnson Advisory Group, or e-mail Brett Johnson at email@example.com
10 Things You Could be Using Photoshop For, But Probably Arent
Most people don't use Photoshop to its fullest capabilities. Here are just ten uses to which you could put this highly versatile software.
Microsoft Great Plains Reporting ? Overview for Developer
Looks like Microsoft Great Plains becomes more and more popular, partly because of Microsoft muscles behind it. Now it is targeted to the whole spectrum of horizontal and vertical market clientele. Small companies use Small Business Manager (which is based on the same technology ? Great Plains Dexterity dictionary and runtime), Great Plains Standard on MSDE is for small to midsize clients, and then Great Plains serves the rest of the market up to big corporations. There are several reporting tools available and you definitely need to know which one to use for different types of reports.If you are developer who is asked: how do we create report for Microsoft Great Plains ? read this and you will have the clues on where to look further.Great Plains Report Writer (ReportWriter) ? this is built-in reporting tool. All the original report in Great Plains are written in ReportWriter. ReportWriter itself is Dexterity module. You should use this tool if you would like to modify existing Great Plains reports, such as Blank Invoice Form - here you can place your company logo, change the positioning, fonts, colors, etc. ReportWriter will allow you also do new reports - simple option if you want to export all the records from one Great Plains table - use it. New report, however doesn't have interface where you would enter parameters - so it is not useful for real custom reports. Another limitation of ReportWriter - you can not do cross-modules report - when you need sales and purchasing info on the same report for example. FRx. This is excellent tool when deal with financial reporting - it works on the General Ledger level (Balance sheet, P&L, Cash Flow Statement, etc.). It also allows you to do multiple companies consolidation - when you do consolidated Balance Sheet (with inter-companies transactions elimination). Smart List - Export to Excel ? this is nice feature in Great Plains - you could create a list with simple criteria and then export it to Excel. Crystal Reports. It gives you unlimited functionality. Obviously flexibility requires you to know Great Plains table structure: Launch Great Plains and go to Tools->Resource Description->Tables. Find the table in the proper series. If you are looking for the customers ? it should be RM00101 ? customer master file. If you need historical Sales Order Processing documents ? they are in SOP30200 ? Sales History Header file, etc. Create ODBC connection to GP Company database. Use the same technique as when you create standard ODBC connection for GP workstation ? but change default database to targeted company database. Create SQL Query to probe the data ? we always recommend tuning your query and see that you are getting adequate results ? in any case ? Crystal Report is just a nice tool to show the results of your query. Direct Web Publishing off Great Plains databases ? yes - it is easy now with Visual Studio.Net and you can hire good programmers. This is good - Microsoft Business Solutions products: Great Plains, Solomon, Navision and Axapta will be integrated into so called Microsoft Business Portal - which will have web interface - you can get the idea if you look at Microsoft CRM web client - so direct web publishing is good taste. SQL Queries. If you have SQL background - this is great field for you. You know - with properly formatted SQL query you can realize simple EDI export/import for the integration with legacy systems.Happy designing! if you want us to do the job - give us a call 1-866-528-0577! firstname.lastname@example.org
Databases ? How We Love to Hate Them!
You've finally created databases that you can actually use to store and manipulate all your critical data. That's great news and quite an accomplishment. But in your rush to get your employees to start entering information into these databases, you skipped the training process and let them go at it alone.
Destination: Desktop for Google
First we had the original Google search that evolved into the leader in its class. In fact, it became so popular that the word "google" worked its way into our everyday language as a verb, as in "to google" something. Google later introduced a toolbar that was plug-in for some browsers like Internet Explorer. The Google toolbar features a direct Google search box with quick access to image and group searches, a pop-up blocker, and for Internet marketers mostly, a PageRank (PR) indicator.
Microsoft CRM Implementation & Remote Support
We would like to give you pluses and minuses of Microsoft CRM.
Theres Gold in Your Websites Server Log
Many Webmasters have never bothered to view their website's server log. Ignoring your server log is like flying with a blind pilot. You may still be cruising along, but you have no idea where you are or where you're headed. If your website is on a free host, you probably don't have access to the server log. However, if you pay for your web host, or if you own the server, you almost always have some access to the server log.
Microsoft CRM Integration With Microsoft Office Documents ? Overview For System Integrator
Microsoft CRM is CRM application, maintained and supported by Microsoft Business Solutions. Microsoft CRM utilizes majority of the Microsoft technologies: Windows Active Directory, SQL Server, MS Exchange, BizTalk (integration with MS Great Plains, and soon with Navision), Message Queuing, .Net web services to name a few. There is market demand on the efficient integration of MS Office documents into Microsoft CRM. Let's take a look at the options:
MicroWorld Releases New Version of MailScan Ver. 4.5 - Antivirus and Content Security Software
MicroWorld Technologies, Inc. the leading solutions provider in the area of Anti-virus and Content security, has announced the launch of its new version of MailScan Ver. 4.5,the antivirus and content security software for mail servers.
Getting Patched with Windows Service Pack
Are you one of those people that keeps track of recalls, just in case one of your most recent purchases gets recalled? Well, some of us do, but many of us don't.
Microsoft Great Plains Upgrade ? Version 8.0 Overview for IT Director/Controller
If you have Microsoft Great Plains as main accounting and ERP system you need to know some technical details on Great Plains version upgrade and what is going on behind the scenes, which options do you have in case of Dexterity, VBA, SQL customizations, ctree/Pervasive migration to MS SQL/MSDE. As of right now it is reasonable to upgrade to Microsoft Great Plains 8.0 Is upgrade required? Not actually, but you have to consider these factors ? Technical Support discontinuation - the old version may not be supported - currently if you are on version 6.0 - support is already discontinued. You can not have Microsoft Business Solutions help you, but obviously you have MBS partners who can still help you. If you are on Ctree or Pervasive SQL, then your support expires December, 31 2004. ? Tax Updates/Magnetic media expiration - if you have US Payroll module and depend on it with W2 and other forms - you must stay with the version, which is supported and has tax updates. If you are on Ctree or Pervasive SQL - then you will not have tax updates for these platforms at the end of 2004 and your W2s maybe inaccurate. If you have a lot of employees - you may have issues with government.? Following the Technology and Microsoft rules - Microsoft wants you to be on the newest platform and provides you the best support when you follow this rule? If you do have heavy customization - we recommend you to skip one version, for example if you are on version 7.5 - do not upgrade to 8.0 and wait for the next version What is upgrade in the language of technology? Upgrade has server and client sides. ? Server side - upgrade converts tables from old format to the new one. In general words - Microsoft Business Solutions developers may change table structure, append additional fields to add new functionality, things like that. Upgrade copies the table with changes to temporary table, then drops original table, recreates it with new structure and copies all the data from temp table to the newly created one. ? Workstation side - workstation is written in Great Plains Dexterity and has Dynamics.exe - engine and DYNAMICS.DIC - dictionary. These two plus all the additional files will be replaced with the new ones. Other dictionaries, such us REPORTS.DIC and FORMS.DIC should be also upgraded and upgrade will try to deal with them automatically. In some cases modified reports (in REPORTS.DIC) could not be upgraded and need to be recreated in the new version. What is customization upgrade? You should consider different types of customizations: Dexterity, VBA/Modifier, SQL, ReportWriter, Crystal Reports? Dexterity Customization - being very short - Dexterity may have so called Custom Forms - these do not need upgrade - they should work as is. Then Dexterity may alter existing Great Plains forms (so-called Alternate Great Plains forms) - in this case Dexterity customization should be redone for these forms/screens. Plus additional consideration should be given to Dexterity triggers, shadow tables, etc. ? VBA/Modifier customization - Modifier allows you to modify existing Great Plains windows - it creates so called modified Great Plains windows, stored in FORMS.DIC. Usually modification is placing new buttons or fields, which in turn will be given VBA scripts (stored in DYNAMICS.VBA). VBA scripts may call something nice, like Crystal Report, or have some data access logic. Usually the old version of DYNAMICS.VBA workds with the new version. You may need to rearrange buttons on the modified form.? SQL - you may have some stored procs for data integration, EDI or the like - if the addressed tables will be changed in the new version then you need to analyze your SQL code. The good news is - Microsoft Business Solution doesn't make a lot of changes since version 7.0, because Microsoft is now trying to merge the products it owns: Great Plains, Solomon, Navision and Axapta - and so has different priorities? ReportWriter - MBS doesn't change tables, but it keeps changing Dexterity formulas used in ReportWriter original reports - this is the problem in so-called Modified Reports upgrade - usually you have these reports modified: SOP Blank Invoice form, SOP Blank Picking ticket, etc. If report can not be upgraded - it should be redone in the new version with some exceptions.? Crystal Reports - the nice thing about Crystal Report - id doesn't need to be upgraded (if the fields in the tables exist in the new version - which is usually true statement)What is upgrade for third-party modules? Your Great Plains may have so-called third party modules: Mekorma, Kampdata, Horyzon, Wennsoft, Avalara, Truepay, Trinity, Intellisol to name a fewThird party modules may have their own utility for upgrade. You just need to know that your third-party is ready for the new Great Plains version - if not - you just wait and stay on the old version. What is migration from Ctree/Pervasive.SQL 2000 to MS SQL/MSDE? MBS has migration tool. You need first to install Great Plains on SQL Server with exactly the same account/segments structure and then install migration tool (it is Dexterity chunk) on your ctree/Pervasive workstation - then, when you integrate the chunk - you will map it to target SQL-based Great Plains Company, select all system and company tables, click the button and it will move all your tables one-by-one. In the case when your Great Plains ctree/Pervasive has third parties - you need to check if the vendor has migration tool - otherwise you have to do manual move, use SQL Linked server to your legacy data Do I need consultant? It is probably good idea to have consultant to do the upgrade. We strongly recommend you to use consultant in the following cases? You have Dexterity customization? You are doing migration from Pervasive/Ctree to Microsoft SQL Server/MSDE, especially when you have third-parties without migration tools? You have a lot or ReportWriter Modified Great Plains Reports? You have old version of Great Plains: Dynamics or eEnterprise 6.0 or prior - in this case you can not appeal to Microsoft Technical Support - it is discontinued ? Your Great Plains has more than 20 users and you have to have upgrade done over the weekend - if it fails - you have business problems? You don't have support - in this case you have to select your Microsoft Business Solutions Partner and pay for the annual support/enhancement plan - you will get new registration key and will be ready for the upgrade Good luck with upgrade and if you have issues or concerns ? we are here to help! If you want us to do the job - give us a call 1-866-528-0577! email@example.com
eCommerce development for Microsoft Great Plains: tools and highlights for programmer
Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains, former Great Plains Software Dynamics and eEnterprise was designed in earlier 1990th as ERP, which can be easily transferable to the winning Database and OS platform and it was originally available on Mac and PC ? Mac OS and Microsoft Windows respectively. Graphical platforms battle is pretty much over and now with eCommerce demands, we should look at Great Plains Dynamics tables structure:
Removing Incoming Email in MS Exchange, C# Example
The purpose of one of our projects was MS Exchange handler for processing incoming email.
Spyware - The Internet Devil Of Our Times!
Spyware and Adware infest over 90 percent of computers in use today. Internet linked computers has made it easy for spybots, adware, and trojans to infiltrate and compromise online privacy. Installed toolbars can also contribute to browser hijacking and spyware related problems.
Reporting for Microsoft Great Plains/Dynamics/eEnterprise: RW ? ReportWriter ? Tips for Developer
Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains is written in Great Plains Software programming tool: Great Plains Dexterity. Dexterity in turn was built with conception of graphical cross-platform transferability (in time ? 1992 ? mostly Mac and MS Windows). Plus Dexterity had database abstraction level (through C programming language). The result of such a shrewd future-looking architecture ? Great Plains ReportWriter has multiple restrictions and drawbacks.
How To Develop Software For Your Business
Software development is a risky business.
SSH (SCP) Send Files from Windows to Your Linux Box
Not all of us have the luxury of working both at home and at work on a UNIX based system. However that doesn't mean you can't transfer files safely and securely between the two systems.
Free PDF Publishing Software
In a previous article, I wrote about OpenOffice which an excellent suite of Free Office software which is in the Public Domain.
Lotus Domino/Notes - Microsoft Great Plains Tandem as ERP with Documents Workflow - Overview for IT
Lotus Domino/Notes ? Microsoft Great Plains tandem as ERP with Documents Workflow ? overview for IT Specialist
Things You Can Do With Windows XP!
Did you ever give a thought to the number of things you can do with Windows XP? Take your own time and think... I hope you remember few basic and easy things if you are not new to Windows family. Check it out the following paragraph.
Understanding Document Management
The term "document management" and "paperless office" is the subject of countless articles and books. Everyone wants to achieve this lofty goal but not everyone understands what the terms really mean. Before you can embark on the journey of achieving total document management, it's important that you have a good basic knowledge of the terms and concepts that go with it.
|© Athifea Distribution LLC - 2013|