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4 Questions EVERY business should ask, but few do:

As a small business advocate, we feel it our duty to give small business decision makers the tools they need to make truly informed decisions. There are things about our industry you need to know. Questions you SHOULD be asking, but often don't. So here they are.

1. Does that monthly subscription price include EVERYTHING you offer?

Small businesses often don't dig into verbal quotes, and we think to their peril. Some software companies rely on the fact that you don't know what you don't know. We know of one company in particular that quotes each seat at $99 per user per month, for (so called) full featured ERP. But it isn't until well after the customer commits, that they realize "the catch". "Oh you need to manage multiple warehouses? That's part of Advanced Inventory" which of course costs thousands more per year. "You want Landed Cost, or e-commerce ? That's our XYZ package", it goes on and on. The point is that you should ALWAYS ask what's NOT included in your subscription cost (itemized list please) and get pricing upfront. You might even want to ask "Are all enhancements to that module going to be free so long as we're a subscriber ?" If so, get it in writing. We've seen businesses commit to multi-year contracts with 1 year pre-pays. Once that happens, it's too late (Don't be "that" company).

2. How is your implementation plan structured?

Most people simply ask "What's the implementation cost" to which everyone is obliged to answer "it depends", often followed by sets of meaningless price ranges, which for whatever reason seems to satisfy most people. Some providers only implement through partners which can be a double edge sword because partners are often consulting companies that make their bread and butter on billable hours. It's not uncommon to pay for a block of hours (kind of like "Attorney fees") which the consultant knows aren't going to be enough, but will get you in the door (not a pro customer tactic if you ask us). We make it a point to talk about the implementation plan, and here's why. When you look at projects that fail, the main culprit tends to be a lack of planning and mutually defined expectations of what "Success" means. For us, implementation is a means to an end, and not a "profit center". We have a "put the customer's needs first" approach to implementation. To learn more please go to our implementation overview page.

3. Your web site says you have the following (take your pick) feature. Can you show it to me ?

We hear it all the time. We'll be on the phone with a customer that asks cursory questions about "Does BizAutomation have this or that feature", and is all too willing to take a verbal "yes it does" as sufficient confirmation (probably checking off a list on their end). For your own sake, PLEASE don't do that ! There are many reasons why this is a bad idea. Firstly, there's the honest misunderstanding between what you think you're asking and what the sales person at the software company interprets. Secondly, most sales people are incentivized to sell, so there's pressure on them to say "yes" to questions about "Does it do this or that". At BizAutomation all discovery conversations and demos go through a real business analyst, with years of experience, and not a commissionable sales person. In fact, when you ask about a feature, you'll likely be asked if we can demo it to you, along with a number of related features you may not have thought to ask about. THAT'S putting the customer first.

4. Your web site says your software integrates with (fill in the blank - e.g. "QuickBooks", "SalesForce", etc...) are you duplicating my data or integrating it ?

Looking at the "Integrations" page on all those software system web sites sure looks impressive, but did you know what's REALLY happening behind the scene ? We make a big deal out of this at BizAutomation because we believe it's our job to make sure business owners and decision makers understand what they're getting into on a long term basis, when they base their company on stringing together software systems. If you haven't already, watch this 3 minute video that covers what happens when you get a "Data Hairball".