February 11, 2014 by Kenneth Fisher
It’s always a gamble when buying a new piece of software. You pay your money, you throw the dice and you hope that you didn’t just buy a POS (Piece Of non-functioning Software). However there are things that you can do to maximize your odds. You can talk to your employee’s and see what experiences they have had with the various software on the market. You can look at reviews of the top rated software options on line. You might even check out what your competitors are using and how they like it. And if you have been around for a while you take into account your previous history with different pieces of software. Then you pick out a few top runners, call their sales people and talk to them. You might even grab a handful of the people who are going to use the software and ask their opinion.
Or you can do like a former company of mine did. We had a POS timesheet system. It required 2-3 full time developers and hundreds of DBA hours a year just to maintain it. These were internal employees in addition to the yearly service fee we paid. On top of that was the department that kept up the data etc. And of course everyone who had the misfortune to use it hated it. So the decision was made to get rid of this POS. The senior management looked at several options and after much deliberation (6 months or so) they made a decision. Without checking reviews (as best we could tell). Without speaking to their employees. And they finally decided on …. an upgraded version of the same POS software we already had.
So we started prepping. We provisioned two servers, one test and one prod. Both of them were highly underpowered because too much of the budget had been spent on the software itself. The developers (crying the whole time) installed the software and began the long process of getting it ready to use. One year later, with the efforts of 3 full time developers and one full time DBA on top of millions in licensing the software was ready to use! Less than a year later management realized the system was a POS (lots of complaints and more importantly poor reporting) and started the process of finding a new POS. (and yes it turned out the be a POS that we only used for a year and a half.)