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10 Things End Business Users Should Ask When Making Tech Purchases

If you’re a business user (and you probably are) you’ve had at least one instance where you took on, or were tempted to take on, the role of an IT decision-maker. In this age of direct access to easy tech solutions, it’s natural to want to cut out the “middleman” and go straight to the source. But as Mary Shacklett writes in an article for TechRepublic, this vendor interaction typically reserved for IT is a bit more complex than it seems. The following are 10 tips to keep in mind when taking tech decisions into your own hands.

10 Precautions of the Tech Purchase

  1. Software Compatibility
  2. Security
  3. Vendor Data Centers
  4. New Software Releases
  5. Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
  6. Underlying Hardware
  7. Enhancements / Customization
  8. Disaster Recovery
  9. Deconversion Difficulty
  10. Report Ownership

Let’s start with compatibility. Before you take one more step towards closing a deal, consider your current technology infrastructure. The perfect “solution” to a business challenge could also be the perfect nightmare for your current IT setup.

Second, though every vendor will tell you their software is secure, go a bit further with your query by seeking specific security practices and by checking on third-party security audits. Additionally, some IT vendors will have their own cloud-based data center that gives them greater security and control over day-to-day operations. Look into the future by ascertaining the vendor’s ability to support future upgrades and to guarantee support for new releases, in addition to problem escalation services.

Service level agreements (SLAs) are an important aspect of any deal. Don’t put pen to paper until you know how quickly the vendor can respond to a question or emergency. For instance, what is their average time to problem resolution? Do you know what underlying hardware the software runs on? It may run infinitely on a stand-alone server without the option of being moved. Furthermore, you’ll want to understand the extent to which enhancements and customizations can be added. Check your facts in advance!

Finally, check to ensure that the vendor’s disaster recovery plan is up to snuff and learn how difficult the deconversion process might be. If you do have to terminate the program, they should be willing to cooperate and facilitate the process. Make sure the reports generated using a vendor’s application are not available to other clients beyond your business. You can never be too careful when you take on the role of IT.

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About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI’s Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master’s degree in communications at Penn State University.

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