This post is the eleventh in a series of questions you as a publisher should ask when interviewing software service providers. (View the tenth question here.) The questions will help you find out if a product is the right fit for you business and if it is really going to do what it claims: help you save time and sell more advertisements.


How do you handle training and support?

Whether you are a Mac or PC, everyone has gone to the Internet for answers to a software problem. Maybe the solution was found through the company support pages or a random helpful fellow on Google. Unfortunately, the software you are purchasing will not have the same widespread use and clout as Apple or Microsoft.   So where will you turn when/if your system stumps your team or is not acting the way it should?


The first item you want to look for is what training and setup assistance options they offer. If you decide to go for a service where you sign up for just a user fee, what help will they give you? If you are on your own for setup, look for comprehensive documentation and a project plan of the system you can use as a guide; for a company with a few users and one or two publications this might be the best option. But while it can be enticing to have no upfront costs and access right away, remember that paying for good training and assistance can save you money and frustration down the road.


Once you are off and running, what happens when bumps in the road occur? A support or help center should have documentation that provides basic assistance to site functionality (e.g., how to create an order, how to make an invoice, and how to create a new issue). Check out the provider’s help pages and see if they have put the effort into making it easy to use and ample. If the problem is a bug, what process is in place to track and solve technical problems? What is the usual provider response time and are there any costs? You must know where you need to go when a problem occurs and what type of response you will get.


As you add new employees and additional users, how will you get them using the system effectively? It is a good idea to have at least one in-house guru, but if they are not able to get a newbie up to speed, check into future training costs and additional support packages the provider offers. The marriage between you and the provider is hopefully a long lasting one; know what happens after the honeymoon.


Next: How long does it take to get up and running?


POSTED BY Tom Bellen, to contact click here.