The business decisions you make today will affect your success for years to come. As software experts, we hope these seven simple questions provide you with some insight into the world of software and software companies as you go about the process of evaluating your next software supplier.

1. Can I evaluate the software prior to purchasing? Nothing beats getting your hands on the actual software, prior to purchasing. Is it intuitive? Easy to use? Is it a tool you will use often? Make sure you “try it” before you “buy it.” Sample and compare.

2. How much does your best technical support cost? Many companies will include Basic Tech Support free for a limited number of calls and time. Premium Tech Support (the support you need) can cost you money this year, next year and in the years to come. If a company is offering the first year free, ask how much will it cost you over the next five years. Get it in writing. How much more will the tech support cost if you add additional software licenses?

3. Do I have to sign a contract? There are many reasons why software companies may make you sign a contract – and almost all of them benefit the software company – not you. Don’t get locked into paying extra money for years to come.

4. Do I have to pay an “Annual Maintenance Fee? Some companies will charge you an additional amount of money yearly to provide you with upgrades and technical support. Multiply this out by five years to measure your investment.

5. Is renting software just a payment plan in disguise? Be careful. It could be. If it’s a “Rent to Own” program, you may be signing on for a purchase rather than truly renting the software. Ask questions. Do they want you to sign a contract?

6. Are upgrades optional? Some companies will back charge you for upgrades you missed or skipped.

7. Does the software really meet my needs? No software “does it all.” Think about what you want to accomplish with your software, then find the best fit for your work flow.

Shopping for Woodworking Software? Seven Basic Questions to AskSource: KCD Software. Visit, (508) 760-1140.

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