Navigating the World of Business Software
Software is a core component in any organization these days. Just think about all the software platforms you use on a daily basis: email client, billing system, ordering platform, CRM, time management/tracking, ERP — the list goes on and on.
How can you make sure you’re getting the most value out of your software investment in terms of time and money?
Look at the Software Big Picture
Be proactive about your software strategy. Think about how software fits into your organization as a whole, and tie your software strategy directly to your organizational strategy. Here are a few common questions to consider:
Do you want one tool that does everything? Or do you want several tools, each of which is the best at the specifics of what it does?
Is there technology you can implement to help you and your employees better meet organizational goals?
If you use multiple software platforms for key business and value chain processes, do those systems integrate with each other? Should they?
Understand Software’s Value
By tying your software strategy to your organizational goals, you can better understand the value — or lack of value — a system brings to your team. Think of your software as being a team member. Just like any employee, the software systems you “hire” should have clear expectations and help you meet your goals. Invest in your software like you invest in your team. Sure, software doesn’t need to attend trainings and conferences, but it does need an element of “professional development” in the form of maintenance, updates and enhancements.
Do Your Research
Making a decision to invest in software, whether it’s a $9.99 per month subscription or a custom system, requires forethought and planning. Ask yourself:
- What are the goals for this system?
- What do I expect the end result of implementing this system to be?
- What is the value expected out of the system?
Once you understand the big picture of the system’s goals, here are steps you can take to evaluate your options:
- Document your requirements and expectations, including functionality, timeline, cost and other factors.
- Categorize those requirements into must-have items, items you really want but aren’t deal-breakers and nice-to-have items that aren’t required.
- Find options. Look for potential alternatives with a range of customization options, including out-of-the-box systems, existing platforms that are modular to which functionality can be added and removed as needed, and fully custom development.
- Rate the options based on your requirements.
- Get estimates and more information on your top three.
- Evaluate the top choices and make a decision.
The most successful software strategies put the same rigor around investing in software as around purchasing a piece of physical equipment or another large asset. Software is an important part of keeping businesses running, so be sure to treat it that way.