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Key Factors to Consider when Choosing a Software Provider

Key Factors to Consider when Choosing a Software Provider

Analysts predict that the UK software industry will double in size by 2010. With so much competition and seemingly fewer differentiating factors between software systems, it’s hardly surprising when businesses are left confused and overwhelmed when attempting to choose between one business software supplier and another.

Mark Thompson, Managing Director of the UK’s leading supplier of integrated business management and information systems for the mid-market, COA Solutions, recommends that the following key factors are considered when selecting a software provider.

1. A product portfolio that supports the business as it grows

It’s important to consider the software needs of the business in five and even ten years’ time. Today the organisation may require a basic enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, however tomorrow there could be a need for an ERP and a human resource (HR) system with integrated document management and business intelligence. Ultimately, thinking about the business’ future plans can prevent the unenviable situation of having to deal with multiple software providers with distinct specialisms.

2. Accredited and award-winning software

Check that the supplier’s software products are fit for purpose and meet relevant industry standards. It’s also worth asking whether the supplier and its software products have won any relevant industry awards and whether the supplier is a member of any UK industry bodies, such as the Business Application Software Developers Association (BASDA).

3. Financial stability

Ask to see evidence of the software supplier’s financial stability. It’s important to feel confident that the supplier chosen can support the business for years to come. With an insolvent/bankrupt software provider, the organisation’s system will not be supported and there will be difficulties modifying the software and correcting errors.

4. Local support

As a UK business, it is important to feel supported by the software supplier on a local scale with UK-based offices and customer support centres. Local support helps to ensure quick response times. Even better is a software provider with a UK-based management team that understands the importance of fast decision-making. This ensures the company is able to respond quickly to regulatory and customer requirements.

5. Sector-specific UK understanding

Software providers need to fully understand who they are selling to and their UK customers’ particular needs. A software provider cannot expect its finance system to be as suitable for a charity as a bank, for example. Factors such as industry regulation, key performance indicators and cost implications all impact the type of software system required.

6. Customer-centric approach

Each business decision needs to form part of a customer-centric strategy. For example, the supplier’s product portfolio needs to respond to customer need and acquisitions should add value to the company’s product set, ultimately benefiting the customer. The company also needs to value the importance of remaining close to its customers throughout the customer lifecycle from the initial consultancy period through to after-sales support.

7. Well-established customer base and reference sites

The supplier should be able to demonstrate a long track-record of providing successful industry-relevant implementations and should be willing to provide a comprehensive list of happy customers. Satisfied customers should be only too willing to act as reference sites and share their success stories.

8. Quality after-sales support

The supplier needs to provide dedicated UK-based after-sales support so that the organisation’s needs and any issues that arise can be responded to quickly. Ideally, customers should be provided with the facility to seek support via the telephone, email and the web.

Choosing a software supplier can often prove a long, drawn-out and confusing process. With a plethora of suppliers to choose from, it’s difficult to know what really differentiates one software supplier from another. Each supplier’s merits and shortcomings should be considered carefully so that the needs of the client’s business can be best fulfilled.

When selecting a software supplier it’s important to consider factors such as the needs of the business going forward, whether the software has been accredited and the financial stability of the software supplier. Importantly, the supplier needs to demonstrate closeness to its customers in terms of geographical location and business understanding and prove an ongoing close relationship with them throughout the customer lifecycle.

For further information about COA Solutions, call 01932 584000, email or visit


About COA Solutions Ltd

COA Solutions (formerly CedarOpenAccounts) is the UK’s leading supplier of integrated business management and information systems to public, private and not-for-profit organisations in the service sector. COA Solutions prides itself on getting close to its customers by understanding their businesses and responding to their business needs.

COA Solutions’ award-winning Smart Business Suite combines core financial management, procurement, human resource and payroll systems, integrated with a range of collaborative, document management and business intelligence solutions. These solutions extend the value and effectiveness of the finance, HR and payroll departments across the organisation and enable managers in the business to monitor, analyse and continually improve corporate performance.

COA Solutions has more than 500 experienced and professional staff supporting and servicing over 4,000 clients across the UK service sector including Companies House, Newcastle City Council, WHSmith, Royal Bank of Scotland, Aer Lingus, National Express Group, DFS, RSPB and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust.


Liz Ebbrell, COA Solutions
+44 (0)1625 856505 or 07917 634 705

Ben Carey, COA Solutions
+44 (0)1625 856505