Bargain hunting is a fact of life these days, so it isn’t surprising that businesses everywhere have applied the principle to their hunt for software. And it’s fair to say that there appear to be some significant discounts out there.

Whatever type of software businesses are searching for to support their goals, they’ll probably find a cut-price solution somewhere on the market that promises to do everything the market leader provides but at a fraction of the cost.

The big question is whether those solutions can actually live up to those promises and, more importantly, whether it really benefits your business.

What Are We Really Valuing?

No matter what we’re buying, from holidays to underwear, if we really step back and look at what we value most, it’s often the discount that counts. We’ve all heard our friends and family members crowing victoriously about how they got a cut-price holiday in the Caribbean, but when they get back they can’t stop complaining about what a terrible time they had. The location was too remote, they had to self-cater, and the weather was too hot.

Was the holiday really the problem? Or was the problem really that the holiday wasn’t the right fit for them?

The disappointed holidaymakers were so excited to get a bargain offer that they didn’t stop to think about whether the deal that they’d just scooped was a good choice for their needs. If they’d actually taken the time to consider their preferences and requirements, they’d have realised that the kind of holiday they actually enjoy is a luxury 5-star, all-inclusive vacation in the heart of a buzzing resort with a moderate climate – not an apartment in the remote hills of a hot and humid Caribbean island.

It just goes to show that the thing that they really valued wasn’t the Caribbean holiday itself, but the impressive discount they’d obtained. And that kind of error can be a significant mistake. Yet, it’s a mistake that holds true across all kinds of purchasing, including when it comes to buying company software.

Failing To Put Needs Above Price

A major issue that almost all companies face is the tendency to look at price before anything else. There’s such a drive to keep costs down that business leaders in charge of purchasing forget to take all the essentials into account before they snap up what appears to be a bargain simply because it fits into the available budget with room to spare.

The problem – as we all know when we’re thinking clearly – is that a bargain is only a bargain if it’s something that we want, need and in the case of software, can actually use.

We’ve all made the mistake of buying a pair of shoes or jeans that were significantly reduced in price and feeling euphoric until we got them home only to discover they were too small, too big, or just too ugly to ever wear.

Essentially, we become blinded by “Reduced” signs to the extent where everything else falls by the wayside. Would we ever have bought those green suede loafers if they were their full price of £200? Of course not! Or would we ever have thought that snapping up that branded t-shirt in a size XXXS was a brilliant suggestion if it had been on sale at its full retail cost of £99.99? It goes without saying that the answer is no. We don’t want or need these items, and they serve absolutely no useful purpose in our lives, but because they come with a red DISCOUNT sign, we snatch them up as if they were hotcakes.

So, how does this apply to business software?

The Price vs. Feature Dilemma

Although a low price tag isn’t always an indicator of a lack of features, the two things often go hand in hand. When it comes to setting prices for anything, including software, customer perception is taken into account.

If a piece of software is at a low price point to begin with, that suggests that it may not be the most effective solution to the problem, it may have less features, the features may not fit your requirements, or it could just be more difficult to use. That doesn’t bode well for the business making the investment. It may be a cheap piece of software, but any expenditure is a waste if it doesn’t do the job that they need it to.

Many purchasers can be blindsided by low prices whilst forgetting to look at what the product does, and which needs it solves. Nobody should embark on shopping for company software without having a clear idea of the purpose it must serve and the features it must have.

Keeping those essentials firmly in mind when browsing the available products couldn’t be more important. If a piece of software can’t do what you needs it to do, it needs to be left on the shelf. It doesn’t matter if it costs £5 or £500 – if it doesn’t meet the criteria the money may as well be thrown away.

Around 20% Of All Software Projects Fail

There are some significantly disturbing statistics out there about software project failure rates, and it becomes very clear that companies of all types and sizes, including government organisations, have made some very poor software investments in their time simply because they didn’t take into account the requirements of the project.

We need only consider the £10 billion spent on software for NHS record-keeping that ended up in the bin to see the extent of the failings.
In America in 2020 alone, over $2 trillion was lost to businesses due to poor-quality business software that failed to meet its necessary requirements. That’s a shocking figure.

However, it isn’t too surprising when we see that under half of all projects are highly aligned to organisational strategy. Without that alignment, how can software success ever be achieved?

When the focus is too heavily on budget and not on requirements, it’s clear that the most effective software solution is unlikely to be found. So, with this in mind, it’s time to begin overlooking cost in favour of quality and start getting the priorities right – bargain software is only a good deal if it ticks the boxes that make business better.

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