10 Questions to Ask Your Vendor Before Selecting Your Collection Software Solution

February 26, 2015
Ashlee Hyden

Let’s face it, our industry is a tough one.  We are faced with continued regulation, evolving compliance requirements all while your clients are pushing you for better rates.

DAKCS Software Systems has been successful over the last five years in evolving our solutions to stay aligned with these evolving regulation changes and compliance requirements, growing our first party collection customer base, all while maintaining our commitment to providing astounding customer service.

If you are in process of evaluating software solutions to automate your first and third party collection requirements, whether you evaluate our solutions or industry competitors, we wanted to provide some guidance on the critical top 10 questions to ask your vendors before you make an investment.

  • Can I have references, references, and more references?
    Your vendor should be able to provide an extremely granular reference list based on your unique requirements, goals, organizational size, debt portfolio managed.  If your vendor can’t provide any references that are uniquely aligned to the way that relatively function or want to function, find a vendor that can.  Ask for references from your vendor that align with your;

    • Organizational and company size.
    • Staff type (i.e. collection resources, Account Receivable staff, technical resources)
    • Hosted or on-premise installations.
    • Type of debt managed.
    • First and/or third party debt management functions.
    • Data conversion references from your system that you are converting from (either vendor stated, or in-house developed system)
    • Does your dialing solution require uploading and downloading of call campaign information?
  • All the solutions that you are proposing, how many did you create rather than partner with other vendors?
    Established, knowledgeable vendors in our industry should have all the required solutions built into their solution suite.  If you have to call another vendor to get a problem resolved with your predictive dialer you are wasting your valuable time.  Other key items for consideration as it pertains to solutions that are required to run your business.

    • Does your client access portal, provide real time access to accounts receivable and debtor information in order to reduce printing and mailing costs?
    • Does your dialing solution require uploading and downloading of call campaign information?
    • Does my staff have to go to another program to enter in credit card/ACH payment information?
    • Does your accounts receivable and collection management system provide a collectibility scoring solution that is built into the product?
  • How many programmers will I require to maintain your products?
    Conversely, if your vendor in evaluation is requiring you to maintain programming resources to uniquely set-up, maintain and evolve this ”flexible” system, you are choosing the wrong vendor.  Software solutions for first and third party collection entities should be configurable, not customizable.  Customizations are expensive, require expensive resources or vendors to make these changes and take a very long time.  You system should be able to be setup, configured, maintained, and evolved with resources that know how your business operates, not an expensive programmer.
  • How configurable are your accounts receivable and collection management solutions?
    All collection departments and agencies are not the same.  Those that are successful, profitable and growing have differentiated their agencies and departments with unique requirements, business rules, and structure.  This is your “secret sauce”, why you are unique and how you differentiate yourself from your competitors. Don’t settle for a vendor that tells you, “This is how you have to do it in our system“, “This is the way it looks in our system“.   You need a system that is agile for these unique requirements and workflows; visually and functionally.
  • Do you offer hosted AND an on-premise version of your accounts receivable and collections management system?
    Whether you are interested in a hosted system today, in the future, or even if you aren’t interested in a hosted solution; this is where the industry is going.  It is where every industry is going.  At the end of the day, it is a financial decision, and hosted solutions are simply less expensive to implement and maintain.  Ask your vendor if they offer hybrid hosted solutions, that would allow you to purchase licenses and the vendor would host the licenses (Infrastructure as a Service).  If your vendor has no plans to offer a hosted version of their system, you are evaluating the wrong vendor.  Conversely, maybe a hosted solution isn’t aligned with your current business goals, staffing or customer requirements, make sure your vendor can offer an on-premise version of their accounts receivable and collection management system.
  • As my business and the industry evolves, how flexible are your products?
    As mentioned above, this industry is greatly changing.  Our successful customers are moving ‘upstream’, they are acting as first party collection agencies for their customers, they are evolving into other industries as the 3rd party collection space faces further government and credit card regulation.  Make sure that the solution that you are evaluating addresses your needs today, and is flexible to adapt to your future plans.
  • How are you addressing compliancy in your products?
    If industry compliance is an afterthought for your vendor, not ‘baked’ into the core application, and the vendor isn’t on the leading edge of regulation and compliance, then keep evaluating your vendor pool.  Ask your vendor;

    • Does the system offer built-in compliance or do I need other “modules” that I will be charged extra for?
    • Is the system configurable to adapt to the state regulations that I am licensed in?
    • Does the system offer an enforced compliance architecture, where business rules are applied, followed, enforced and documented?
    • How does your product address Regulation-E?
  • How easy is it for me to get my data for reporting during business operation, and in the event I want to move to another vendor?
    It is one of the most important questions to ask your vendor pool.  Make sure that you have complete and full access to your data during operation via an easy to use, graphical, report writer, that doesn’t require a programmer to use.  Both technically and legally, make sure that you will have access to your data in the event that you decide to leave your vendor.  Throughly review the vendors proposed license and/or service level agreement (if they are proposing a hosted system).
  • Describe your project management, implementation, training, data conversion, custom development services that you will provide to quickly get my organization live using your products?
    Any software product geared towards the accounts receivable and collection management market is as only as good as the team that implements, trains, converts data, provides any custom interface development required for the go-live of of our project.   Ask thorough and detailed questions regarding this process of your project.  If it isn’t clearly defined, explained, vague, or references provide negative feedback on these functions, move on to the next vendor.
  • What is your average turnaround time on a customer support request?
    Service after the sell is vital to your success, your require a technology partner that is an extension of your office or organization to ensure that your technical, and functional requests are rapidly handled.  If your vendor cannot provide the average turnaround time on a customer support request, or if the references you contact provide negative information regarding service after the sale spend your valuable dollars elsewhere

Every expense you incur is critical in your operations, selecting the right technology partner is the most critical decision you will make. We look forward to getting the privilege to earn your business in this important decision. Contact us today to arrange your online or onsite consultation today.