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Guide to Purchasing Software

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Guide to Purchasing Software

Evaluating Your Company's Data Processing Needs
The questions listed here are designed to assist the equipment leasing manager in evaluation requirements for a computer that will adequately meet the company's needs. This list of questions is not intended to be complete and is meant to be used with an effectively developed needs analysis. However, this list of steps can provide the manager with a framework for evaluating a vendor's offer of solution.

Step 1 BulletStep 2 BulletStep 3 BulletStep 4 BulletStep 5

Step One - Evaluate the Services

  • What consulting services are being provided?
  • What staff is being proposed?
  • When will the vendor train your staff?
  • Does the vendor have the capability to install the equipment proposed?
  • How much responsibility will the vendor assume of the following: presale analysis; postsale systems analysis; system configuration and design; system installation; and system documentation?
  • Is the project schedule realistic?

Step Two - Evaluate the Software

  • Will the vendor train your personnel in the use of the software package?
  • Are package options available? If so, at what additional costs?
  • What documentation, such as descriptions, narratives and flow charts will be provided with the package?
  • What proportion of package and custom software is being proposed?
  • What modifications to packages are necessary to interface with customer programs?
  • Are packages and custom programs written in the same industry-standard languages?
  • What test and acceptance procedures are proposed for this software?
  • Are the packages being acquired from different sources?
  • Is there an overall warranty or separate warranties?
  • Will the combination of software in any way degrade the performance of the system configuration?
  • Are there other leasing company users of this software with whom you could consult? Are they satisfied with the package?
  • Is the package flexible enough to meet usual reporting requirements?
  • Will you be given a source code version of the package?
  • What data interface will the software support? Are the options offered industry-standard?
  • What type of existing record conversion will be necessary with the type of software proposed?
  • Who will bear costs and assume responsibility for records conversion?
  • How "machine intensive" is the software? Can the company add more software to the system in the future without a hardware upgrade?
  • Is the planned software compatible or flexible enough to support integration with other functional packages or software which might be added at a later date?
  • Are there any anticipated problems in implementing the software in the operating system with the proposed hardware?

Step Three-Evaluate the Hardware

  • Will the vendor install and maintain the system? If not, who will and for what cost?
  • What type of hardware warranty is offered?
  • What type of installation-site improvements need to be made to support the hardware, such as electrical, cooling, security and structural improvements?
  • Does the CPU contain enough internal storage to support the type of applications (uses) envisioned for the proposed system?
  • Can more internal storage be added to the system?
  • Does the CPU have an automatics restart capability in case of power loss?
  • Will the combination software program support modifications as other corporate functions are added to the system?
  • What documentation, such as descriptions, narratives and flow charts, will be provided with the hardware?
  • How many printers will the system support? Is this sufficient to meet current and anticipated needs?
  • What print jobs does the company wish to complete, such as labels and reports?
  • Will there be any special installation requirements necessary to support the printers?
  • Can the printers use all of the forms and other paper currently necessary to support day-to-day requirements of the company? What special paper requirements are there?
  • Can the CPU be protected against unauthorized access or system failure?
  • Do the printers come equipped with character sets--typefaces and fonts--to meet the company's needs?
  • Can the printers print fast enough to meet the company's needs?
  • What is the minimum number of terminals the company should begin with?
  • Will there be any special installation requirements necessary to support the terminals?
  • Can the terminals work in conjunction with a printer?
  • How can the company avoid unauthorized use of the terminals?
  • What "ease of operation" features do the terminals possess?

Step Four-Evaluate the Word Processing Capabilities

  • Does the system have a word processing function that supports the company's requirements?
  • Is a special printer or other peripheral device required to support the word processing function of the system?
  • Will word processing affect normal production speed of the system?
  • Is the word processing function user-oriented? Does it require a significant amount of user training?
  • Will the word processing function provide automatic access to data base information in the computer file for correspondence?
  • Who will maintain and implement word processing?
  • What warranty is offered?

Step Five-Evaluate the Contract

  • What type of contract is being considered, such as cost plus fixed fee, fixed, cost and material, or other?
  • Are the hardware requirements clearly spelled out?
  • Are all operational requirements and update procedures contained in the contract?
  • Is there a restriction on documentation reproduction?
  • Is there a statement concerning your right to enhancements at a "fair" market price?
  • Are there clear performance specifications concerning run and access time?
  • What rights does the company have to modify original software?
  • Is there a provision for itemized charges?
  • Are payment and terms within an acceptable period?
  • Is there a provision for non-escalation of license fees?
  • Is there a protection against unreasonable increases in maintenance?
  • Is the contractor giving a detailed implementation plan?
  • Does the vendor offer a separate escrow agreement relating to access to source code for third parties for the purposes of maintenance and enhancement if the vendor cannot provide these services?