1. What is your software designed for?
This is all about functionality vs. usability. While advanced functionality is crucial for innovation and creativity, there’s no need to get carried away with all the bells and whistles. At the end of the day you are running a unique business and you need your software to perform for your unique needs. Deluxe features might look good during a demo but if you’re never going to use them, they’re irrelevant. Find a software that ticks all the boxes and fits into your current processes, then anything extra on top of that is a bonus.
Powerful functionality is useless if you can’t use it. Software should be user-friendly to enhance your experience and support streamlined design and manufacturing. Which leads us to the next point…
2. Can I try before I buy?
You should be able to get a free trial period, where you can test the software in your own environment and make sure that it fits in with you and your team. Getting hands on is the only way to find out if the software is easy-to-use and provides all the tools you need to optimise your production. And of course – test that it does everything your provider promises.
3. Will this software integrate with my machinery now and in the future?
It’s important that your software is flexible and capable of growing with your business. Check that the software doesn’t lock you into one brand or one type of machine but instead can connect and communicate openly with existing and new machinery entering the market. This is vital if you plan to grow and succeed in the collaborative environment of Industry 4.0.
4. Who will be helping me in the event of a technical emergency?
Investing in software is not a one-off transaction. It’s a long-term partnership that should be beneficial. You might have to deal with your software company in the future if anything goes wrong, from a power outage to a systems upgrade. It’s important that you know who you’ll be talking to, how available they are and how capable they are of helping you quickly and efficiently. Put yourself in good hands and deal with a team of experienced manufacturing and software experts who are always on hand to help.
5. What will my ongoing costs be?
Unfortunately, your software isn’t going to be free, but it’s not just the up-front costs you need to think about. Installation, training, upgrades and technical support all need to be accounted for in a five-year plan. Find out how much ongoing costs are and what they include so that you know you’re partnering with a team that supports your business and that you’ll be getting the most out of your investment.
6. What are the bonuses?
So, the software has ticked all of the boxes? It performs all the tasks you need effectively and it’s going to increase production and profits? It comes with an expert support team who are happy to help and it connects your team, computers and machinery together so that your business is Industry 4.0 ready? And it’s all within budget? That’s great, you’ve done it! But what else? Your software provider might have some hidden bonuses up their sleeve that could benefit you, like free training for new employees or bonus library items for your industry. Make sure you ask what sets them apart from the competition and choose the best software for your ongoing innovation, automation and growth.