Building great software is hard. You can’t satisfy everyone, even with the purest of intentions. I’ve seen people deeply frustrated by software, pushed to the brink of irrationality.

I feel their pain and have some advice for those who may be considering purchasing expensive software. Whether it’s LightSpeed, Daylite, or some other application designed for these gorgeous new tools Apple’s given us, be diligent. LightSpeed and many great business tools are not cheap. In a retail environment for example, common practice by seasoned managers is to spend 2 to 4% of their annual Sales budget on an IT implementation, and 1% every year for maintenance. So if you expect sales to be $1,000,000 that’s $20,000 – 40,000 to implement, and $10,000 to maintain.

The best advice I can give you is, don’t rush into these software purchases “hoping” that a feature will show up in an update one day soon. If the software meets your requirements exactly, fantastic. If it meets 85% of your needs, it still might be ok, but have those 15% of requirements clearly identified and analyzed for the impact their absence will cause.

I always encourage potential clients to perform a thorough Requirements Analysis before selecting software. There’s a cost to it, but it could be the best money you spend if you’re thinking about implementing technology that could revolutionize your business (blatant plug: I’m a qualified Business Analyst– call me if you need help). With that done, you should be able to simply walk through a system’s features like a checklist and if it doesn’t do what you need, move on to another solution, custom build, or compromise. I’m always up front with my potential clients, and have actually steered people away from LightSpeed because it didn’t satisfy their requirements.

Once you’ve analyzed your requirements, if they’re not fully met and you decide to compromise, be honest with yourself about the deficiencies. Be fair to your software publisher. It’s not fair to purchase the software without a complete analysis and testing phase, and then rage about it doing or not doing certain things after you’ve bought it. And most of all, have a plan for working around the deficiencies. Hiring “authoritative” help (eg: qualified consultants / resellers) to deal with all this can save a lot of heartbreak.

WHEREVER POSSIBLE subscribe to Support and Software Updates programs offered by the software vendor! This is quite possibly the BEST way to ensure your purchase makes you happier over time.

Good software creators like XSilva make their product’s features and capabilities crystal clear. Their complete documentation is available online, and they offer a free 30 day demo of the software. Would it be nice to have something as wonderful as LightSpeed for every type of business?– absolutely, but building this kind of software properly is hard enough without having to deal with a “moving target”.