After years in the industry, fortunately I got hands-on experience on multiple solutions in the market on live projects. This has inspired me multiple ideas, and enabled me to understand deeply the differences between them. Therefore, I decided to share some of what I have learned in a series of articles. This will be the first.
First advice I would confidently present; Software features and capabilities are not anymore the key criteria. Most solutions now are mature enough to deliver your projects smoothly. In addition, customization is always required to fit your exact project needs. The real defects and difficulties in any software will not really be discovered except after applying it to your projects for considerable amount of time. In other words, after the deal is signed, and the money has been paid. Moreover, Your early judgments are not always accurate, because most of drawbacks you may experience will be due to your lake of experience using the software.
Therefore, it is not wise enough to waste a lot of time comparing software capabilities. It is more mature to look at the bigger picture.
So what is the bigger picture?
The software companies are not a grocery store, where you will buy a product from, then if you encounter an issue you can return it within a timeframe. You need to look to the software company as your partner on the project. In other words, you are choosing a company not a software. This is a more mature perspective.
Continuous commitment from the software company is essential, to help through a time period, not just sell and run. However, all will give promises, but who will keep them? It is hard to say and proof, but there are some pre-sales signs.
Taking into consideration a key sign from Bentley Systems which shows a perfect example of Company's strategy to support its clients through the Post-Sales phase. Bentley Systems has a division named Bentley Institute, and not only sales and marketing divisions. Bentley Institute works on providing sufficient learning and educational material.
The Learn Server; An online repository which have tons of educational material, including on demand videos, step by step training PDFs, and models to use for practice purposes, is one of the key deliverables. All in which has been developed by Bentley employees, and not external parties, which insures higher quality of information.
On the learn server, there are educational videos for all level of users; Beginners, intermediate and experts. Moreover, for different usage purposes; BIM Managers, Modelers, and Engineers. In addition, new educational paths and informative videos are being added
Bentley then ensured easier accessibility to the material by introducing the Connect Advisor, which allows users to search topics from multiple sources within the product itself.
I would say such approach demonstrates clearly the company’s strategy to insure post-sales support to users. The Learn Server example is something which you can rarely find it provided by software companies, especially at this capacity. Bentley didn't wait for users to request training, which would cost them considerable amount of money to include logistics cost, and would be subjected to instructor availability. Alternatively, Bentley has developed its own eLearning server, to enable remote learning and continuous accessibility to informative material.
Having said that, obviously you create your own vision on which software partner is more supportive. This is just one example of criteria to consider when selecting your software partner.
More to come..