This conversation series is about technology utilized in the design process; this week the conversation is about software purchases.
While we will focus in detail on software products in future posts, this post is looking at general questions to ask before you commit to a software. Put simply, you need to make sure you’re going to get along.
When you acquire software, you do so in a number of ways and also have a number of things to consider resulting from that acquisition – this is the point of this post. What are the things that result in the acquiring of software? If these things are not considered prior to committing to a software then surprises – usually unpleasant surprises – result.
Two examples of what I encourage you to consider:
- A friend of mine once told me that, when considering the purchase of a new car , the measure of how expensive a car will be is to ask what the cost of an oil change will be. This will tell you how expensive the car will be to own – or will it own you?
- Someone tells you they have a free cat (or puppy or gold fish) just needing a good home…everyone knows there is no such thing as a free cat. Puppies and goldfish have very different requirements and responsibilities – computers and software are no different.
Think about owning the system and process more than acquiring a software, system, or process. This is where you can determine whether there is a value there for you.
Questions regarding software purchase considerations fall into 3 large categories:
- Software: sometimes called software, sometimes just an app. It’s hard to tell the difference anymore.
- Hardware: The host system of the software installation – this can be a machine or network – depends and affects complicated-ness.
- Users: Somebody’s got to run the software, right? Look around and take inventory – are they already busy and covered up? Are they jumping at the chance to run this new software or running for cover? Be honest here, purchase may be a one-time thing, but using it is forever (or can seem like it!).
Software is what you think you are acquiring, but hold on – before giving them that credit card number and pushing the “complete transaction” button, think about the following:
- Can the software be hosted locally or does it require the Cloud?
- Is it a license, subscription, or one-time purchase? Long gone are the days of a delivery of an installation set of disks or going to a big-box store and purchasing a set of disks to install to have “forever.”
- How does it update?
- How often?
- Is it forced, invited, or pushed on you?
- How are they managed? By whom?
4. When you acquire the software, who owns it? What account was it purchased under? Who’s log-in account was it purchased through? Do you have a company account or individual accounts? Have you kept record of those log-ins and passwords?
5. Where does the software do its work? Some software coding and structure results in the processing not occurring within the CPU (as you would assume) but rather in the GPU – this is especially prevalent in graphics intensive programs. Be careful with this – we recently purchased a graphic intensive program and it was a better performer on a machine with a lesser CPU (due to spec of the CPU and the needs of their software). Sure, a hotter CPU would have looked great on paper, but would not have been as fast or productive as the lesser CPU that was available. We were happy to purchase the machine with the less costly CPU and NOT the machine with the hot rod CPU that we did not need.
6. Where is the work product saved?
1. Locally on the machine?
2. Locally on a server?
4. In the Cloud?
7. Is the software comparable with multiple OS’s? If so, which one is the stronger performer? WHY?
8. Can more than one user be working in a file at the same time? What does this require?
9. How is the new process and product going to be used? Shared? Published?
10. What kind of service can I expect from this company? Call them. Email them. Text them. Whichever is their process of communication – see how quickly they respond and how helpful they are BEFORE you need them.
11. How long can I expect this software to be relevant?
12. Does this software require a software upgrade?
1. What are the minimum OS requirements?
2. What are the recommended OS requirements?
3. Go ahead and let yourself nerd-out on this with a trial, if available. You may be surprised what you find – and surprises before the purchase are much better than after. Do your homework!
13. What kind of training is typically required? What is offered? How do you get it?
14. Who in your office will be operating this software? Who in the office will “own” it?
15. How will this software make my design process better? Where is the value? How can this value be measured?
16. How will this software make my design process more complicated? If you haven’t figured this out by now, insertion of a software that is going to require training you may not already have, potentially new hardware to be purchased and, producing new information or product you untill now have not had access to – how can it NOT make things a little more complicated till you get this figured out?
17. How proven is this software?
18. How many folks in the industry want to do this?
19. How long will this process take?
20. How many copies or licenses are you going to need to acquire? Take this number and multiply the above responses by that factor – especially when considering hardware and training. Until now, the software purchase is the easiest thing you’ll do.
21. Lastly – knowing your responses to all of the above – how much is this consideration going to cost?
New software can be exciting like a new bike or family pet – and it should be. But make sure you consider living with it before bringing it home. Ultimately, it’s your decision – get it if you want to. I encourage you to get it if the above considerations result in a “let’s do this thing” response, but do so with your eyes wide open.
Doing so will assist in making your new acquisition of software a happy new member of your design process family. Everyone will get along – right?
Enjoy! Now you can do new, better, and exciting things in your adventure.
Let me know how it goes.