Updated: Aug 8, 2021
If the current lockdowns sweeping across Australia have shown us anything, it is that we value our freedom above virtually everything else. Freedom to move, freedom to choose, freedom to adapt.
To avoid being locked down to the wrong software provider, we've created this list of essential considerations when selecting CAD/CAM software for your business.
Ask if you can test run the top level of the software without restrictions. For example, Mozaik Software allows you to subscribe at a low cost for 90 days to find out first-hand if the software is the right fit for your business. It's easy for sales reps to show you a flash demo and talk the talk. However, it is much harder to give you full access to the software and allow you to walk the walk.
Ditch the demo. Software demos are like watching a politician deliver a Covid update; they are entirely scripted, controlled, repetitive and not completely transparent. Experienced sales reps are highly skilled at showing you the best bits and just "talking" about the not so best bits. That way, you are only viewing the best bits and then hearing a watered-down version of the not so best bits. Like the old adage, seeing is believing. However, one better than seeing is doing. That is why you can't beat trying the software before committing to a long term subscription or purchase.
What happens to your software if you decide to close or sell the business? You may not have immediate plans to sell or close down your business; however, if the past year or so has taught us anything, it is the importance of adaptability. Most software can't be sold or transferred, and the ones that can often charge the new owner a hefty fee to re-register the software in their name. That makes your resell value pretty much worthless. The most common misconception in the software game is people thinking they are buying an asset. Software is not an asset; it's a liability.
Be clear about what you need the software to do for your business. Software gets developed with a specific function in mind. You need to be clear about your expectations and ensure you select the right software for your needs. Be wary of software that claims to do it all as they are usually the jack of all but master of none and way over complicated for everyday jobs. Flexibility can equal complexity in poorly designed software.
Ask how much additional training costs. Many companies mark up their software package offerings and claim to include free training as part of the deal. Please make no mistake; you are paying for training; it's all in how the sales rep wants to present you the value. Ask how much the software costs without training or how much the training would cost if purchased separately; that way, you are clear about the cost expectations moving forward.
What happens if I don't pay for support or updates for a few years? Some companies place a sunset date on their software. If you don't stay up to date, you would need to purchase the software all over again! I have received many phone calls from disgruntled people that are shocked to learn this is even possible. Companies that don't have a sunset date will often back charge you for updates that you missed. The sales rep will tell you that updates are optional, but they fail to disclose that you will pay through the teeth if/when you need to update.
Check if you have the flexibility to add your own library items to the software. Be specific about what you may want to add as some programs let you save varients of cabinets already available in their library but don't let you design products front scratch. Check if you can add in 3D models for hardware items you may want to display in a design or cabinet. A good example is asking the provider to show you how to add a 3D model of a pullout panty into a cabinet. Check how easy it is to add the associated drilling for the pullout pantry. These are the kinds of things usually overlooked when first selecting software.
I hope this list helps you find the right provider and enter into your search armed with more knowledge. It's like buying a car for the first time; you don't know what you don't know. However, the second time you buy a car, you know the right questions to ask. Hopefully, this list will help you make the right choice for your business the first time around.
Cadmate Pty Ltd