We all have them… small aspects of our jobs that we begin to loathe over time. They don’t always start out that way. As Operations Director, in charge of masterminding all IT and software both for internal use and the development of our Web to Print offerings, I have one of those tasks that has become more and more loathsome over time.
So what is it I hear you ask? When it’s time for our annual 3rd party software review. Being a fluid and adaptable organisation I like to periodically look to the market to make sure we have the best available tools to manage our business. These range from e-mail providers to CRM and it’s at this time of year that I begin to look at alternatives to the software we currently use. That’s where the fun ends.
We utilise a core set of services, all market leaders, however as with most providers budgets and inflation start to creep into our discussions when renewing contracts. One in particular, our CRM provider who shall remain nameless… (“cough” it rhymes with Gale Force) has begun to do something all too commonplace in the software market. An automatic annual increase in fees. This isn’t linked to inflation. This isn’t justified by an increased feature set. This isn’t fair!
Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of justifying paying for something that brings value to the business. What I can’t get my head round is when that value doesn’t change, yet the cost does.
So, many years ago I started to embark on a round of research to see if any other competitors could offer similar features at a reduced price, or more valuable features and an increased price (although the latter would not have gone down well with the MD!).
Believe it or not, there are literally hundreds of CRM providers out there. Trust me, I know as I have looked at most of them! What is worrying is the amount of similar stories I could tell. Research the product, sign up for a trial, begin to test, huge feature missing, move on. Rinse. Spin. Repeat.
The similarities don’t end there. They all do pretty much the same thing, with the same features and unfortunately all fall down at the same hurdles when applying them to our business. What is also common is that if we took on their shiny new system, we would have to accept a different way of working, one that we have streamlined over many years of working in the web to print industry.
So where does that leave us? Back to the negotiating table with our current providers which will inevitably lead to accepting an increase in cost.
There must be another way?! Here at Red Tie I am very positive about the fact we have not adopted an automatic increase in fees. Instead of worrying about fee increases you can focus on issues related to features (or lack thereof with some other providers) – why choose a software solution based on a singular way of doing things, as is the case with many providers? With RedTie Web to print software, there is always more than one way to achieve the best outcome for your business. Remove the limits dictated to you by the software provider and take back control. Your way of doing things, in your hands. Don’t be shackled by restrictions.
With fewer restrictions, why would you bother with an annual review of your software? You could be confident it does a lot more than you need today and the chances are it will do everything you need from Web to print software in the future. So choose a provider that won’t restrict you.
I know if I had the chance I would much rather spend this time doing something that would result in a more positive outcome, even tidying my desk…!