“How much does it cost?” is one of the most common question buyers ask when looking for cloud-based software solutions. Price is definitely a major factor when purchasing, but there are many other important questions that can  get missed at the beginning of the buying process. Asking the following questions upfront can save buyers some big headaches down the road.

Questions to Ask When Buying Third-Party Software

1. Capability

Since buyers have recognized the need for a risk management system, they likely have some idea of what functions are required. Consider the following questions regarding a system’s capability:

  • What modules are included in the system? Is there the potential for more in the future?

  • How many people can access the system? How many separate departments?

  • What pain points does the system solve?

  • What is the system’s primary purpose and how does it add value?

2. Technology

All software is different. A system may not fit a buyer’s unique needs simply because the technology is not right for their organization. It can be helpful to ask questions such as:

  • How user-friendly is the system?

  • Is Internet-access necessary to use the system?

  • How are workflows automated in the system?

3. Security

With IT security becoming a major issue for companies, ensuring a third-party provider is secure is imperative to the safety of the organization. Most organizations have a full security questionnaire, but these preliminary questions could save the IT team some time down the road:

  • Where is the data stored?

  • Who will own the data?

  • How is data retrieved from the system if the partnership is dissolved in the future?

  • How is the system accessed?

  • What safeguards are in place to prevent a data breach?

  • What happens if a data breach occurs?

For a better idea of what to ask to ensure cybersecurity, check out 30 Questions to Ask Vendors to Reduce Cyber Risk.

4. Integration

A new software system can be a difficult adjustment, especially if it doesn't fit in well with systems already in place. Asking these questions can assist in a successful software implementation:

  • Can the software solution integrate with current organizational processes?

  • What systems can the solution currently integrate with?

  • How does the integration process work?

5. Implementation

A poorly executed implementation can cost an organization thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of dollars. Here are some sample questions to prevent these costly issues:

  • How long is a typical implementation?

  • How is implementation time determined?

  • How much time will each team have to dedicate for successful implementation?

  • Does the implementation take place online or in-person?

  • How much training is included in implementation?

  • Please describe the implementation process.

  • What are some challenges customers have faced during implementation?

6. Customer Support & Success

Support is a crucial part of any third-party system and can make or break the user experience. Questions that are great to ask around support include:

  • How is the success of the system measured and monitored?

  • How does the company work to constantly improve user experience?

  • Is support included in annual fees?

  • What support channels are available?

  • What are guaranteed support response times?

  • What hours/days is support available?

  • Are there dedicated account executives?

7. Customers

Learning from current users of the system is possibly the most effective way to learn whether a third-party will be able to meet wants and needs. The vendor can be asked questions such as:

  • Who are some current customers?

  • Are there references that would speak to their experience with the system?

  • What are some of the results that customers have experienced with the software?

  • What are customers’ favourite and least favourite things about the system?

  • What is the customer retention rate?

8. Pricing Model & Contract

After considering the above, it is of course important to discuss pricing and contracts. Learning how the transaction occurs both upfront and on an ongoing basis is high up on the totem pole of questions that will be asked of buyers presenting their business case..

  • Is pricing determined by user levels, included modules, functionality, or a combination of those?

  • Is there an upfront implementation fee?

  • Is there an annual maintenance cost and what is included?

  • What additional fees can be expected throughout the contract term?

  • What is the length of the contract term?

If implemented correctly, a cloud-based software solution always makes users lives much easier. However, a buyer must be confident that the software will actually fit their needs in order to achieve success. These questions cover the basics that will determine whether the system might be worth purchasing or if the buyer should continue searching.

At ClearRisk, we understand the difficulties that come with choosing a new software system. That's why we're more than happy to spend as much time as necessary discussing the above questions with potential customers. Interested? Let's start the conversation: 

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