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Caveat emptor! Oh sh*t, why did we buy that Software?

Failure in nonprofit software projects can cause sever damage!

When it comes to buying software these days it may seem a bit like caveat emptor or “Oh S*it” for some. The market place is rich with options  and it’s very competitive especially at the low and high-end with many large-scale packages available which seem to promise everything in the organization. In this article, I will explore some disasters where the software selected dramatically impacted the organization and then underscore ten rookie mistakes to avoid in your software decision.

Significant Software Failures to ponder: 

Residential Services Incorporated, a North Carolina based service agency is a good starting point. In an overhaul of its computer system, the agency bought a large-scale software package. Then they found that their computer system did not have the capacity to meet the bandwidth requirements of the system.

Washington State University decided to replace an older student management system with Oracle’s PeopleSoft system at a cost of fifteen million dollars. Installation of the system caused miscommunication between the University’s financial and financial aid modules that caused widespread delays in financial aid disbursements.

The State of North Carolina: In this case, the state of North Carolina terminated a contract with Contractor Over Tax Software System.  North Carolina has already paid CGI $63.8 million for the tax-collection system. Wow!

In the field of Battle: It sometimes gets even more serious than just dollars and cents. In one incident I read from years past involving an armed services unit, a small “undetected glitches” in the software for identifying incoming missiles was found to have cost the lives of sailors on warships. Unfortunately, the glitches “in programming”, only discovered after the fact, had caused the misfiring of multi-million dollar rockets.

These are several cases in the press, however, if you would like to review more you may do so by going to Info World which has the IT disasters of 2013 in an article titled “The Worst IT projects of 2013“. The reports are sure to get your heart pounding a bit. So, be warned.

Top  10 Mistakes That Make You look Dumb in Software Decisions

Unfortunately, I have seen it very often. Many times “the fit” provided to address a problem is poor. The convincing demonstrations during the evaluation process can certainly be very impressive. But, it’s important not to get to enamored without properly taking the time to address a selection process with the proper due diligence it deserves. Please consider below the common mistakes in selecting Online Membership Management Software (any software) which may help frame the importance in making a smart software decision at your organization and avoiding failure:

  1. Overbuying: Buying software without sufficient technical support and paying for unused licenses can drain the budget.

  2. No Room for growth: Buying software which cannot grow with your organization can impact your revenue opportunities.

  3. Poor Design: Buying software that keeps staff so busy they are diverted from their real jobs.

  4. Difficult to Use: buying software where application requires a lot of expensive outsourced training that costs staff time and money

  5. Overpriced: Buying the wrong software which costs so much the board won’t allow you to do anything for years!

  6. Poor Morale: Buying software that frustrates staff and damages staff morale and motivation.

  7. Bad Customer Reputation: Buying software that causes delays and malfunction that damage the organization’s reputation.

  8. Dual Systems: Buying software and still having to maintain an old system because you can’t get the history in the new one!

  9. Fired: Buying software and losing your job. Yes, this can happen. I have seen it!

  10. Having to do it again! Buying software that is so bad you have to pay for a whole new package and go through the process after a couple of years. Now, that in of itself should be enough right?

So, buyer beware (caveat emptor) is true!

Our mission is to identify the best software for your specific needs. The flip side of this is reducing the risk of software failures. It’s important to know your requirements, perform your due diligence before the search, and take the time necessary to make a smart decision. And, if you would like to discuss your software needs with us please give us a call.

Until then, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

SmartThoughts, Software Selection failure is not an option!


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