Paul Simon was one half of the famous Simon and Garfunkel ( ). He wrote 50 ways to leave a lover but left 42 of them to our imagination!

When you’re in love you think that the relationship is never going to end. The world is beautiful and whilst you may argue sometimes; you always get over those differences. Your partner is bright, funny, makes you laugh and well somehow, you just get along.

Then overtime you start to notice things about them, little things that at first you brush over. Dropped clothes in the bathroom that don’t get picked up. Washing up left in the sink and never get put in the dishwasher. Spending too much time out with the boys (or girls). You ask them questions, but you really never get a satisfactory answer. The Credit card bills that come in just seem to get bigger and bigger.

Sound familiar? Well enough about your relationship!

You could apply the same thinking to your favourite software vendor. It’s all sweetness and light at first, you have gleaming new software that everyone in the company is happy with, then, over time you start to notice issues with it. You are given a support team to contact, who never really seem to answer the question you want answering. Renewal costs seem to get more expensive, but you’re not really sure what it is that you are continuing to pay for?

So you start to think about changing your lover (supplier), you see that the dynamics in the market are changing, with new options available such as; open source, cloud technologies. But you need to be sure that changing is going to be the right decision for you. So here are some questions that you should be asking, with the help of Paul Simon.

You just slip out the back, Jack.

Not really a good idea with your commercially off the shelf (COTS) supplier! You need to check out the contractual terms of terminating your agreement with them. You also need to understand the costs involved in moving from your current supplier to a new supplier (whether it’s another COTS or Open Source Software supplier).

The same goes even if you are looking at seemingly free open source software. The initial cost may be free, but what are the ongoing costs of support? in terms of development and productions support costs, or are you prepared to take on the cost of developing your version of open source software.

Make a new plan, Stan

If you are going to change make sure you understand the differences between software that looks, on the face of it, functionally similar, but in reality may have major differences in the way that they handle things (for example messaging). It is important that you plan your migration accordingly.

You don’t need to be coy, Roy

You certainly don’t need to be coy! Make sure that you get your current and proposed suppliers in and ask those all important fundamental questions, such as;

  • How does your software (still) meet my requirements? (See later – Don’t need to discuss much)
  • Where doesn’t it meet my requirements?
    • How do you (the proposed supplier) propose filling the gap in functionality? Often reveals more about the organisation you are dealing with than asking the positive question.
    • Just how will they react when something goes wrong?
    • what is the quality of the people they employ? Are they good problem solvers? or just machines with no real understanding of their own software and the bigger picture?
  • How is your support function organised?
    • When will I be charged and when won’t I?
  • Track record
    • Who else is using your software?
    • Are the organisations similar to mine and in the same industry?
    • Were their functional requirements similar to mine or completely different?
  • Research
    • What do the major research organisations say about the proposed software?
  • Performance Data
    • Is there good performance data from the supplier organisation? Does independent performance data support the suppliers’ findings?

Just listen to me

No , don’t just listen to them. Make sure that you get information from as many sources as you can find. Don’t just rely on what you find on the Internet. Often seemingly independent articles/Tweets are placed on a paid basis.

Hop on the bus, Gus

Too often at W3Partnership we see organisations that have done just that! Been carried away with the latest fashion, beguiled by smooth talking salesman and not taken independent advice until they have spent a fortune trying to smooth our problems.

You don’t need to discuss much

Yes you do. You need to have a very clear requirements document in place before you invite any potential supplier in to talk to. This provides your plan of action, how you will evaluate your software, what is important to the particular organisation and what isn’t

Just drop off the key, Lee

Once you’ve done all the research, asked the question then you can enter negotiations for that Software key

And get yourself free

W3Partnership provides technology, skills and assets that help organisations large or small effectively share their applications & data both within the enterprise and externally. We provide services and solutions associated with delivering integration projects, specialising in assisting customers build a secure, robust Integration platform for their internal and partner requirements. We are specialist in both open source and commercially available products having worked with leading integration platforms for Digital Delivery.

Contact us at or call on 0845 868 5041