What's the difference between a landscape software vendor and software partner?
First: pricing. In the “old days,” software was typically sold for a fixed price. For that, you would get a disk, CD, or a big fat download file, and YOU had to manage deployment, training, etc. Today, however, cloud-based SaaS (software as a service) solutions are replacing that model, and a vendor now provides you with a license that you simply plug into a website. With this model, there is rarely fixed pricing. Instead, you pay for the license as long as you use the software. This licensing fee can be priced per user—or, in some cases, as a percentage of your revenue. Be careful, though—these licensing fees are not the same: some are priced à la carte and some are one price, meaning the cost is all-inclusive and covers service, support, and training.
Which approach provides the best solution for your company?
If you are investing in business management software, you should recognize that you are “buying” into a long-term relationship. The software is just part of that relationship. You must assess the value that the partner/vendor provides.
What's value? Value is always a function of the money you spend and the stuff you get for that money. This is the same whether you are selling landscape services or landscape management software.
So, for the money you spend, you will want a partner and not a vendor—and if it goes as it should, the two of you will become great friends over the years. The alternative? Be disappointed and have to start all over again.
What’s better—all in or à la carte?
"Do the math" is always the easy response. But if you haven’t used a SaaS solution before, you may be ill-equipped to do this since it is difficult to forecast usage for à la carte charges for like: additional user licenses, support calls, field mobile, new versions, upgrades, added data storage and on-going training.
For this simple reason, the all-in approach seems to me like the better value. Why?
- First, I have "done the math"—à la carte on a per-unit basis looks inexpensive, but it can add up quickly.
- Second, it takes time to learn software—your learning curve could become costly if you keep going back to your vendor for à la carte support.
- Third, you don't really want to feel as if you're being nickeled and dimed for every call and new feature, upgrade, or version.
- Fourth, all-in gives you control of your technology costs and eliminates surprises—more on this in my next post when I discuss what to expect for what you spend.
Like this blog post? Be sure to read next week's follow-up post on our blog, "Do You Want a Software Vendor or Partner for Your Landscape Company? Part 2"
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Rally Cap Update: Spring has sprung—of course, now that I have said this, it will snow!