Well, you’ve identified the software functionality you need and have talked to your sources to get their opinions on how to go about developing it. In the back of your mind, though, you still think it should be part of the base translator package and ought to be included in a future release. What’s your next step?

Well, this is actually a tricky part of your entire decision process since you need to take into account how quickly you need it, how important it is to you, and where it is in the vendor’s development pipeline. If your need is great and the feature will be added at the next release, but that release is a year away, you may still opt to go down a development path on your own. On the other hand, if you can wait and it’s not in the next software release, you may still have enough time to exert influence on the vendor to get it added.

Learning what’s included in an upcoming release can be challenging. Your initial questions should go to your closest contact with the vendor, which is often their sales representative. Other options would be to contact their technical support people, help desk, and whatever other contacts you have in their organization. It’s quite possible you won’t learn much, as software vendors are typically closed-mouthed about future releases.

So, how would you approach your software vendor to add a feature? It really gets down to how close your relationship is with them, what their pipeline process is, and how universal the need might be. If you spend a lot of money with the vendor, you have a better chance of success than if you bought a copy of the program through a website and installed it yourself. We worked very closely with Sterling, used their consultants, attended their conferences, participated in their users’ group, had employees who were invited to join their customer advisory group, and were at least able to access and propose changes to the right people. If you truly feel the feature you need is something many other users would benefit from, I’d recommend sitting down with your software vendor’s representative to clarify the steps you need to take to get it on their radar for development. I’m not saying they’ll jump at the opportunity, but it’s in their best interests to add features that appeal to current and potential customers, so if you do a good job explaining the need you may succeed.

So, all isn’t lost if your translator is still missing something. Identify your need, do your research, vet your ideas, find out if it’s planned as a future addition to your package, and decide on a direction. If it’s important enough, you’ll need to get it done one way or another.

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