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Tips for Evaluating Software

Written by Zach Gilbert

Published: 08/27/2020

As a culture, we’re pretty much “just make it as quick and easy as possible for me to push a button and make whatever it is I want to happen, happen. Instantly.”

And this pretty much works today for most things we purchase: smartphones, software (MS Office, for example), linking our Netflix subscription to our Smart TV, and so on.

And our research into the purchase of these new tools? Minimal. A quick ask of our friends about which is best to buy and….we buy it.

But software? As much as software – once installed – most often does allow us to do just about everything we’d like it to do,  instantly, it’s critical that we do our due diligence when it comes to choosing the cloud-based software we want to help us run our publishing enterprise.

After all, it’s helping us run our business!

Tips to help you evaluate software options

It truly is important to thoroughly vet the SaaS provider and/or its software that you’re thinking of engaging. Not as important as “vetting” the person whom you choose to marry, but close enough, because – as mentioned above – the software is going to help you run your business!

Begin with the end in mind (and that means reading all the fine print).

Read the contract you’re signing. Read it again. Maybe even again. Ask a contract attorney to read it. Understand that not all salespeople are as honest as they should be or even could be. Read it.

Trust, but verify.

Again, most salespeople and others working with the software platform you’re considering are eager to get you to sign up. So ask for a list of their clients that have been using their system for at least one year. And, because you’re a publisher, make sure most of those clients also publish print or online publications

Call them. Talk at length. Ask them about what surprised them about the platform for good or for bad.  What do they hate about it? What delights them? How responsive has the SaaS company been regarding issues that crop up? And so on.

There will be glitches. You will need to contact the company’s support team for something that needs fixing right now. Tech support, therefore, is critical. (And, to toot our own horn, MagHub is highly rated for a reason!)

Check for hidden fees and “hosting charges.” 

Don’t get us wrong, a SaaS hosting charge definitely can be a legitimate cost that the company passes on to you. 

But they should be transparent about it!

Take a close look at the costs you’ll be considering, such as upfront costs (installation, integration, customization, a perpetual license fee). Note your recurring costs (maintenance/support, subscription fees), and so on.

And also look at what are called “avoidable costs.” These are costs you “avoid” because you purchase the software. Such costs could include the fact that the software helps you run your publishing enterprise more efficiently, thus saving you money. Do these costs help balance the large amount of money you’re going to spend on the software platform?

Focus on the long-term. 

Technology changes constantly. Your needs undoubtedly will change as the publishing industry continues to evolve. And, while it’s very hard to predict, understand that the software you purchase today is a years-long investment. So as you evaluate different platforms, ask a lot of questions of both the vendor and its current clients about how it’s anticipating technological advancements. Doing so helps ensure the software’s lifespan and helps lessen the need for frequent upgrades.

Ask us anything about the MagHub publishing CRM/ERP. Ask us about our fees, our support, our contract. Ask to talk to some of our wonderful clients. Ask for a demonstration. Ask how it can help you run your publishing company more efficiently. Just ask!

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