Read the Fine Print on Software Vendor Quotes

Comparing software vendors can be a difficult process, but with due diligence and by knowing what to look for, you can arrive at an informed decision. Let’s assume for the purpose of this discussion that you have narrowed down a list of a few vendors to those who offer the functionality you need – so now you're in the process of comparing several quotes or proposals.

“Compare Apples to Apples”

Are the numbers you are looking at directly comparable? Vendors differ in the way they price their product, so the first thing to do is reduce the pricing into costs that are comparable. One of the easiest mistakes to make is to miss the fine print details regarding the implementation and services involved.

Most vendors these days are up front and honest in estimating these costs, but there are a few software vendors who tend to lowball these costs to a customer - in the old "bait and switch" approach. If some vendors seem to have a much lower cost for implementation than others, this raises an obvious questions: why the difference? If one vendor specifies service costs of $2,000 and the other $20,000, there is likely a big difference in the scope of the services being offered (see below).

Differences in Data Migration

Perhaps you plan on manually keying in data from your old system to your new one. This is a common thought but in practice is rarely feasible except in the case of a startup business. (See this detailed post about data migration considerations.) Even if some data has to be entered manually, you still need to consider such data migration issues as: sales history, order history, opening balances at go-live, and other accounting history.

Ask for a detailed description of the type of data migration included in each quote/proposal you have received. Some vendors, as a default, include no allocation for data migration costs. Other vendors, on the other hand, will help you scrub your data, restructure it according to your desires and perform the entire import for you. And then there are many somewhere in between.

Differences in Training

Differences in training offered are often as big as those in data migration. If not detailed specifically, training often merely includes training resources (such as videos) with no live training. Implementing an ERP system without proper person-to-person training is generally not a good option, so you will end up opting for proper training which may double a quote that didn’t include it from the start.