Capability, reliability, available customizing. Sounds a lot more like shopping for a car than wine compliance.  Actually in this case these are all topics to consider recommended by Jim Vahl, founder of The Winemaker’s Database, a wine production software platform. These topics are covered during his presentation at the free seminars Winemaker’s Database has been hosting this year around 7 wine producing regions of California. These seminars have been offered to both their existing software customers as well as to anyone interested in learning more about it. As part of his presentation Jim covers a list of suggested topics for wineries to consider when shopping for  wine production software.

Coming from the owner of a wine software business you might think he’s going to slant this list in favor of his own product.

That really isn’t the case here as the suggested topics on his list make good business sense when making this kind of purchase. Plus, each of these items are topics that have factored in largely to the development and improvement of their product over its history. So he’s speaking from first hand experience in keeping his customers happy.

Here are 6 of the topics to consider when purchasing wine software:

1. Capability. Basically this means can the software do all that you want it to do? Is it set up to track the information and types of data that your winery wants to know?

2. Reliability. How “robust” is the software? Can it take a certain amount of abuse without crashing? Does it ever lose data?

3. Support. What are the details about the ownership behind the software? Do they have a wine production background? Do they also make software for other un-related industries? If you need to call them for help are they responsive? Friendly? Helpful?

4. Ability to Fix.  If mistakes are made can they be fixed? Even if this means going back in time by many months of data?

5. Available customizing. If your winery desires a special custom feature to be created for their system is this an option to ask for? Are there various “a la carte” items that you can pick and choose from depending on your needs and desires?

6. IT support. What level of IT support does the software require? Backup?

Now of course to someone like myself who has interacted and managed a winery database at many wineries over the past 15 years I understand the value of these topics.

That brings up another good suggestion when shopping for this kind of software for your winery, ask around. Talk to your colleagues at other wineries. Find out what they use and if they’d recommend it or better yet, be willing to let you come over and take a first hand look.

They are all valuable topics for decision makers at wineries to be aware of for this type of purchase. This is a long term investment they are looking at making, potentially in both time and money.

By doing their homework and examining more closely what they want to get out of their wine production software and maintaining that kind of relationship once the purchase is made they stand a better chance for long term success.

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