When you’re looking to purchase field service management software, you need to hear how the system works from contractors that are using it, not just from the software vendor. While you can do this by going online and reading user reviews, a better way is to actually talk to, or even visit, customers that have the similar businesses to yours. 

Ask them all of the basic questions, such as how the product works and what features it has, get information on implementation and training, but also make sure to ask them these key questions:

1. Did you look at other software solutions as well? If so, which ones?

Asking a vendor’s customers what other solutions they looked at is a great way to see what else is out there and how it stacks up against the solution you’re considering. Getting that input may save you the time of looking into all the other systems yourself.

2. Why did you go with the system that you did?

This will give you some insight into the pros of the system, and you’ll be able to get a better idea of what features the system has, what the strong points are, and whether or not you think the system will work for you.

3. Have you encountered any major problems with the software?

Speaking to the customers about what issues they’ve had with the system is a great way for you to pinpoint weaknesses and problems to look out for, evaluate if you think the problems they’re having will be problems for you, and compare it with the other solutions you’ve looked at. Make sure that you cover how intuitive and user friendly the system is, and what their end users say about the ease of use.

4. How is user adoption?

What percentage of potential users is actively using it, and what percentage of the functionality are they using? This gives you an idea of how many people are involved in the system, and what features are being the most utilized. You can find out what they are not using as much, and get a clear idea of the features that seem to be the most unnecessary.

5.  How responsive and helpful is customer service?

Even though you can take free trials a lot of the time, and talk to customer service representatives yourself, it’s good to get feedback from actual customers about the customer support, as sometimes it can be a different experience once you’ve purchased the system. Find out how long it takes for a problem to be fixed, how long before your emails/phone calls get returned, and overall how helpful the customer support team is.

6. Is the product lacking anything?

Find out what the system doesn’t have — if you already have a list of wants and needs, then you’ll be able to get an idea of whether or not the system is missing something that you find really important.

7. What about your own software search would you have done differently?

People who have gone through the whole process already often are able to look back on their experience and pinpoint what they would have done differently that might have avoided any problems they may currently have. Asking them this question is valuable for that very reason — they can teach you something that they learned the hard way, and save you the trouble of having to go through the same process.

Know of any more good questions to ask? Add them in the comments below!

Thanks to Leah Merrill, a software analyst for Capterra, for providing this checklist.