Are you choosing new software for your business? Well, there’s a huge amount of software available on the market, such as systems used to assist with your accounting through to this kind, which is specifically designed for retail businesses. But there are a few common factors you should think about, whatever you’re hoping to use it for. Work through this checklist to ensure you’re choosing the best software for your company.
Analyze your needs
First, take some time to really analyze what your business needs from a piece of software. Don’t purchase anything until you’re crystal clear about what you need to it do – which means spending some time getting to know your processes and sticking points. That way, you’ll find the right piece of software to help you overcome a particular challenge, rather than being swayed by a list of shiny features. Compile a list of your ‘must-haves’ too – these are non-negotiable and you shouldn’t sign up for a piece of software that doesn’t meet these requirements.
Don’t get distracted
Another tip worth remembering is that software should be a tool to help you get a job done, not a job to do in itself. So, don’t be too tempted to buy random pieces of software in the belief that it’s somehow a marker of your productivity. You should only be using software to help make established processes more efficient, rather than using a piece of software for the sake of it. This sounds like an obvious point to make, but do be sure reflect before you buy: is this just something you’re buying because you believe you need it before you start selling your products or services? If so, you can probably skip it for now – invest in software once you’ve actually got your business up and running.
Use the same systems where possible
As tempting as it is to snap up special offers from multiple providers, don’t jump from platform to platform. If you’re using Google Mail for example, consider using Google Calendar and Google Docs too, if only to decrease the time you spent switching from tool to tool. Also, using systems from the same provider will also increase the likelihood that your tools are compatible with one another.
See what the competition is up to
Another tip worth remembering when choosing software for your business it to see what your competition is up to. Don’t get too preoccupied with the task, but spend a little time finding out what other companies in your industry are using. Doing this kind of research may unearth things you hadn’t considered, and reveal the providers you should be most seriously considering. Of course, you’ll need to check out the reviews too.
Do a trial run
Always sign up for a trial of the software before you buy it – and be sure to enquire about cooling off periods and refunds if it doesn’t turn out to be quite what you’re looking for. This is essential to do you before you’ve signed on the dotted line!
Check the support on offer
You’re bound to have questions when you’re using a new piece of software, so check the level of support on offer before you buy. Does the provider offer a dedicated helpline? Are there customer service representatives on hand 24 hours a day? And if not, is there a dedicated chat service or a ticketing system to ensure your queries can be resolved? Support is worth its weight in gold, so make sure you’re choosing a piece of software that allows you talk to the people who have developed it, or at least fully understand it.
Make sure the software you’re choosing will work for you in the future, as well as now: you don’t want to have to use another piece of software if you outgrow this one, or add clunky add-ons. At the very least, ensure you’re not tied into long contacts if you think you’ll be moving onto something else if your business grows in the way you’re hoping it will.
One thing that all types of software have in common is a need for security. This becomes even more important if you’re storing customer information on it, or details relating to your company’s finances. Check that the providers on your shortlist have a good reputation, and enquire about the processes they have in place for ensuring that security is well-maintained at all times.
Figure out how you’re going to get your team on board before you buy
Finally, spend some time thinking about how you’re going to get your workforce to adopt any piece of software you introduce. Typically, humans are creatures of habit that are resistant to change, meaning you might be met with resistance when asking people to get on board with new processes. So, come up with a plan for communicating the importance of using it, demonstrate a commitment to it, and also be ready to answer any questions that are fired your way (or at least be able to refer people onto a support line). You might need to make some internal documentation to teach people how to use it, and providing some incentives for using the new software it won’t hurt either.
These are just a handful of things to think about when choosing the best pieces of software for your business. Are you happy with your recent investments? And would you choose differently if you’d read this sooner?