When buying IBM i professionally developed software, you may find several packages that meet your needs.
But how do you choose between the best IBM i software for your shop? Answer: look for a great software package that has a great vendor.
A great vendor enhances a software purchase beyond the software itself: including offering compatible software, providing great customer service, and using fair pricing.
When it’s hard to choose between software packages, the choice is easier when you consider what a vendor adds to a purchase.
Here are three ways to spot a great IBM i vendor that offers great software.
1. A Great Vendor offers modular, expandable, and compatible software
Great vendors offer modular software. You only buy the capabilities you need, and add more capabilities later.
Modular software allows you to expand your solution as needs change. It’s become a popular pricing option, and you should look for it in any IBM i package you buy.
Great vendors allow you to increase software functionality through exit points and APIs that add features without rewriting the core code (check out my post on professionally developed software for more information on exit points and APIs).
Great vendors also provide compatible software packages that work with other products. For example, my ReportFlex report re-formatting software works with our SpoolFlex spooled file management package, which can add additional capabilities to your software. Other vendors offer software that is compatible with other popular software, such as scheduling packages designed for use with JD Edwards ERP software.
A great vendor provides opportunities to grow your software as your business grows. A mediocre vendor sells software that exists in an isolated world.
2. A great vendor provides great customer service
Great vendors have great support, including live phone support with knowledgeable technicians, as well as live chat and email support. Mediocre vendors are under-staffed, make you leave messages and call you back when it’s convenient for them, not you.
A great vendor also offers custom program modifications, allowing you to use their professional developers to add your own functions to their software.
You can test for great customer service when demoing new software by placing a few support calls to a vendor’s technical support line and seeing how they react. Talk to their support staff in addition to their sales people. Good support affects a successful implementation just as much as software does.
Some IBM i third-party vendors provide customer advocates. Customer advocates work with an account, understand the account’s unique needs, advocate for the customer with the business, and provide product guidance. A customer advocate is a great feature that’s worth asking for.
3. A great vendor saves you money, now and later
Don’t just look at the initial software purchase price. Look at the cost of ownership.
What you initially pay for IBM i software will only be part of what the vendor charges you over time.
A great vendor provides great software AND keeps your ownership cost low by:
- Providing flat pricing with no haggling – Everyone pays the same price regardless of how powerful or small your IBM i machine is. The best vendors charge prices that are fair, consistent, and affordable.
- Freezing yearly maintenance at the purchase price (no yearly increases) – Maintenance costs should be based on what you paid for the software when you purchased it, not what the vendor re-prices their maintenance at every year.
- Providing no-charge upgrades – Changing Power systems hardware shouldn’t become a vendor revenue event. You should be able to transfer your software to a new IBM Power machine when you buy new hardware.
Vendors following these principles keep your organization’s fiscal health in mind. For more info, check out my article on fair software pricing.
Good to great
While it’s good to buy good software, it’s great to buy great software backed up by a great vendor. Use this list to make sure you’re buying from a great vendor who provides value beyond the original software purchase price.