I just received an update about a piece of software that has a new version coming out and one of its old versions is being retired. I’m also hearing rumors about another brand of software that is nearing its end of life. Let’s compare how these are being handled and you come to your own conclusions about it.

Software A
For the software that has a new version and with an older version that is officially being retired, I received a notice of this that went into some detail about how this will be handled. One thing the software vendor mentioned was that the version that is being retired is that they recognize that people using this software are using it for studies of long-term data, are probably concerned about how they’ll manage their long-term studies, but went into some detail about the fact that they did think about this and that this is being accounted for.

The fact that this software vendor specifically thought about the worries the customer would have and talked in some detail about how they’re going to make life less-than-miserable for their customers in this situation – that’s promising.

Software B
There is another brand of software by another vendor where it appears that the vendor has decided to basically abandon the product but has not officially told anyone. They have continued to sell it, leaving new customers with no support or services. These are customers who have spent the money and who can’t necessarily come up with yet more money to buy some other product. I’ve heard from at least one customer that they’re just stuck struggling with their new system on their own.

The fact that a software vendor would continue to sell one of their products that they don’t seem to plan to support or to provide any services to is a big problem for those of us looking to the market of products. To me, this sounds like a “make money at all costs” approach.

For me, because I’m in the industry, I get some information from software vendors and can compare to the rumors I hear about them from other vendors and from customers. I can’t tell what Software A is because the information came in a private communication. I can’t tell what Software B is because it’s all based on rumors – while I’m certain about the situation, I don’t have factual confirmation of it.

Certainly, I’m not going to let any customer I’m doing product selections with select Software B. Normally, I don’t make choices for customers – they have to choose between the various products – I’m just there to guide them. That’s in a normal situation where they’re comparing similar products that have no serious issues. Where we’re talking about big problems like this, I feel confident telling them to leave a specific product out of the selection. As I tell them, these days, there are just so many choices out there that you don’t need to include a product that has potential support/services issues.

What Should You Do?
But not everyone doing a product selection is my customer. A lot of people out there are doing this without my help and they’re new to the market.

These two brands are brands that have been around long-enough that new customers would feel entirely comfortable with the company stability for the two companies involved. How do you know to pick Company A over Company B?

This is hard to answer and I don’t want to trivialize it by saying something flip like, “Well, if you really want to know you’ll pay me to help you with this.” What I’d suggest is that you not take longevity as proof that the products will be around. I’d suggest you consider some newer brands in the mix, too. I’d suggest you get out in your industry and ask other companies what brands they’re using, what their experiences have been, what they’re hearing about their product, that sort of thing. Others in your industry are probably hearing more about the products they’re using and experiencing enough with them that they can give you more information. After all, when you go to buy anything, you always get “happy path” stories and often get references that will give you nothing but good news. It’s up to you to protect yourself against that.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises

3 Thoughts to “A Problem If You’re Selecting a New Product”

  1. More sound advice and things to consider. Speaking as a vendor, I feel the vendor is obligated to support all versions of their product as long as there is one customer on the version and they are paying for support and maintenance.

  2. Gloria, you are so correct in the fact that longevity does not equal stability or quality. In some case it means more baggage to schlep along through innovation cycles. Leading to a very long update cycle.

  3. […] I selected this post because it illustrates an industry problem that readers might not be aware of:  A Problem if You’re Selecting a New Product […]

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