One of the most important steps in the software selection process is user reference checks. User references are typically provided by the software vendor and allow you to ask questions about the software as well as the implementation partner. While these references are provided by the vendor – you (and the vendor for that matter) may be surprised at how honest these references typically are.
Here are a few considerations for reference checks:
1. Ask for references that are similar to you including size, number of users, and industry.
2. Make sure that you are speaking with the client about which version they implemented. Sometimes vendors provide references that implemented past versions, even though they have recently re-wrote the product.
3. Make sure that the reference implemented a similar functional footprint to what you are looking to implement.
4. Get a feel for how the software vendor/implementation partner worked through the implementation. Make sure you ask about the competence of the implementation team, as well as any issues that may have arisen.
5. Ask about lessons learned. What did they wish they had known before they implemented the solution? If they had to start over, what would they have done differently?
These are just a few considerations and questions that you should include in your reference checks. References can make the difference in your vendor decision.