Shopping around for RM software? Technical questions you need to ask – Part One

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10When evaluating an RM software solution, it is essential to look beyond the features and benefits to understand the technical aspects of the solution. If a solution doesn’t work from a tech standpoint – then it simply doesn’t work!

In the first of a two-part blog post, we’ll share some of the most important technical questions to consider as you evaluate a potential RM software solution.

Why do the technical details matter?

Without a clear understanding of the technology involved, organizations run the risk of major issues during the implementation phase or during later use.

Most records management professionals don’t have an extensive background in IT, so it’s natural that we don’t dive into these technical aspects right away.

However, the earlier we get into the technical “nuts and bolts” the better.

Asking technical questions early in the process helps you spot potential incompatibilities, gaps and other challenges that could derail the deployment of your solution. Sharing these technical details with your IT team allows you to work together to arrive at the best choice.

Questions to ask

Our recommended technical questions cover a wide range of solution details, from the vendor itself to the devices required to operate the solution.

While no list is definitive, these questions should help draw out the information you need to make the right choice. Any reputable vendor should have the answers readily available.

  1. Vendor background
    One of the best ways to establish the technical reliability of a solution is to find out more about the vendor and its clients. How long has the software been commercially available? How many clients are using the software? For how long? Are there long-term clients that you could speak with about their experiences? Answering these questions provides important clues as to the overall reliability and effectiveness of the solution.
  1. Updates
    Updates are an essential part of the process by which software stays relevant, valuable and secure. However, not all vendors approach updates in the same way. Questions to explore here include: how are updates applied? Are they done automatically or do they require a manual installation process? How long do free updates last?
  1. Administration
    All business software requires some kind of administration. This can be as simple as adding or removing users, or more involved tasks such as mapping workflows or setting up custom reports.It is important to find out how system administration takes place. How much can you do yourself? How much requires potentially costly support from the vendor? If some of the administration can be done in-house, then find out about the training and support available to your administrators.
  1. User Training and Support
    The quality and availability of training and support resources is a major factor in the success of your solution. Ask your prospective vendor about the training programs and help documentation available for end-users. Training services aren’t always included in the software fees so be sure to ask about any additional costs for training. The same goes for technical support. Be sure to ask about service standards for technical support, including availability and response and resolution times.
  1. Compatibility
    This is definitely one to bring up early in the process. Any time you introduce new software into your IT environment, running alongside your existing software tools, you have to be absolutely certain they will work together. Be sure to press your vendor on questions of compatibility, covering all existing hardware, software and network assets.It is important to be specific as possible here. As an example why this is important: the vendor may claim that the RM software is compatible with your ERP system, but it may only be compatible with certain versions.

In next week’s blog post we dive into more of the technical questions to ask, including back-up, security, disaster recovery, as well the various hardware requirements. Stay tuned!

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