Once you’ve documented the requirements for your new system, the next stage in the selection process is to identify potential systems and software vendors. To assist you with this process, we list our top web sources and tips.
Whilst you can visit many websites which have their own lists of software, your overriding objective must be to create your own large list of potentially suitable software / vendors, which is relevant to your needs. And then, to reduce this software vendor list down, to a more manageable 10 – 20 of the most suitable. (This process is applicable whether you’re searching for Accounting, CRM, HR, Payroll, ERP or any major business software solution).
Our top sources and tips of where to find software vendors are:
1. Search engines eg Google, Bing, Yahoo
Search engines will possibly provide the largest amount of information, but care is needed to pick out relevant potential vendors.
Advantages of using search engines include:
- popular first place to look
- very comprehensive
- large numbers of results
- free to use
- can use anonymously
- relatively quick to use
- too many results, possible confusion
- need to refine / revise the search term to improve relevance of results
- use country variants eg Google UK, if you are looking for a UK vendor
- use multiple word search terms to refine your search eg 3, 4 or more words
- search up to 10 pages deep, or set 100 results per page for faster results
- include your business sector in the search terms to narrow results
- use negative words to remove results you don’t want to see eg input ‘free’ as a negative word to remove results offering ‘free’ software
- use advanced search settings, filters, exact words or phrases to improve search results
- make slight changes to the search term to obtain different / improved results
- use local, regional, national or international searches where relevant
- look at both the organic results and the paid for results (sponsored links on the right side of page)
- search only paid for results – if vendors pay to advertise, it is likely that they will only do so where they can sell and support their software
2. Software directories
Software directories come in many shapes and sizes - they may comprise only paid listings, free listings or a mix of both. Some simply list software and vendors, whilst others provide considerable detail. Most categorise the software / vendors and have a ‘search’ facility to assist users. Some are free to use (anonymously), whilst others require registration and may even charge.
The more dependable / reliable software directories tend to be well known names or, part of a reputable organisation (or their website).
To find your relevant software directory – search for [software required eg accounting] + [software directory]
3. Online software exhibitions
Online software exhibitions may provide very relevant results, with considerable additional information about vendors and their software and services. Most listings are paid for, so it is more likely that the vendor will keep their details up-to-date.
The downside is that you may not find all potential vendors listed – as not all may wish to pay for a listing. Plus you may need to register and so may be contacted in future.
To find your relevant online exhibition – search for [software required eg accounting] + [online exhibition] or click here to visit our list of online exhibitions.
4. Websites for: trade exhibitions, expos, road shows and conferences
Traditional trade exhibitions / expos / road shows ie the ones which you can physically visit, meet vendors and discuss your requirements – all have their own websites, specific to the exhibition. On these, they list the exhibitors, with details of their software, services and links back to the vendor websites.
Some websites are free to use, some require registration. And whilst some events are free to attend, others are chargeable.
Not all vendors are listed (as not all may wish to exhibit at that time, or location and it is expensive to do so). But a quick look at the exhibitors could give you a list of some potential software vendors.
To find your relevant trade exhibition – search for [software required eg accounting software] + [exhibition] or click here to visit our list of exhibitions, road shows, conferences and expos.
5. Online software portals and resources
Other portals and website resources also list software vendors. Details and quality may vary – from quite comprehensive to simply ‘cobbled together lists’ and again, not all vendors may be listed.
Most are free to use, but some may require registration. You may still achieve reasonable results. However, you will need to be careful with ‘lower grade’ websites, as you will have to avoid the non-relevant listings and the large numbers of adverts.
To find your relevant other software resources – search for [software required eg accounting software] + [lists] or [top lists]. You may also get these websites popping up in other searches – they are easy to spot with their formulaic layout, adverts and few if any contact details.
6. Websites for: printed / published directories
Offline or printed directories are becoming rarer these days. They may be published annually or at regular intervals throughout the year and may be chargeable to the user. The results are likely to be of a high quality as they are validated each year – but are likely to date a little some time after publishing, particularly if the publication is annual. Some vendor listings are free – usually the most basic listing, the remainder are chargeable (to the vendor) – so the amount of details may vary from vendor to vendor.
Many of the publications have associated websites, and if the publications are chargeable, so too will be access to the online version of the printed directory.
7. Websites for: professional journals and trade magazines
Professional journal and trade magazine websites may require registration, or even subscription to access all parts of the website. They may contain lists or details of software vendors, but more likely, software vendors are to be found mentioned in articles, covered in reviews or comparisons, editorials or in adverts. Not all software vendors will be listed. And unless there is a good search function, it may be slow to identify software vendors using solely this method.
Most of the above sources will only list some of your potential software vendors, so use a combination of sources to quickly create your large software vendor list.
For more system selection information visit: Vendor selection process - shortlisting / Vendor selection check sheet / Vendor evaluation questions / Vendor meeting / Software quality checklist