Growth and revenue maximization is the ultimate goal of any business organization and what could be a better way to achieve this goal than to utilize a software that will help you maximize your sales, manage cash flow efficiently, maintain healthy customer relations and increase your productivity in general.
Looking at these options, you may be tempted to install a software for your business, but with the market brimming with hundreds of software, choosing the right one which will not only fit in perfectly in your organization but also not over strain your pocket could be a herculean task. As software advisors who love to spend hours and hours exploring ins and outs of this industry, my team and I have shared below an easy and step to step guide of choosing the right software for your business.
#1. Knowing your needs
Before you dive in, the very first step in the entire selection process should be analyzing the needs of your business. This is a very crucial step and you need to list down all your needs and categorize them in order of foremost needs, secondary needs and wants.
Primary needs would include those features that have motivated you in the first place to hunt for a software. They should include all those features which are essential for the running of your business.
Secondary needs would include all those features which would act as a bonus and give you an added advantage. Software come with various features and many of them will not fit into the structure of your business. Knowing your needs will help you choose the software whose features match your needs best.
#2. Check your pocket weight
There are hundreds of software available in the market which range from very cheap ones to those which are extremely expensive. An expensive software does not necessarily mean that it will give you better quality and service. Choosing the right software means going out for the one which meets your needs as well as not straining your pocket.
Budgeting is very important before making any investment in any business. Your cost estimation should include not only the cost of your software but also the cost of implementation, the cost of any additional hardware required to run it, consultation costs as well as maintenance costs
#3. Time and method of implementation
Software can be installed in two ways. You can either purchase the product and install it on your site or use a software solution that is stored on the cloud. Go for the option which suits your needs and your budget.
Again, with some software implementation is a matter of just a few days while some others require six months or more of the implementation period. Remember, the period of implementation can be very chaotic. Make it clear with the vendors as to what will be the implementation time, how much time you will be able to afford and also which are the busy seasons in your business when you cannot afford to go for implementation.
#4. Flexibility is the key
The software you choose should not only meet your current needs but should also have the scope for upgrades with growth and expansion of the business. As a customer you would definitely not want to go for another software hunt every time your business expands.
Also, try opting for software which are mobile and can be easily accessed from anywhere whether you are in or out of your office. Again, it would be wise to give priority to software which offer the same features you use on the desktop version on phones and tablets running iOS, Android or Windows. This will enable you and your management staff to access full functionality on their laptop when they are in an important meeting with a client or when they can access their mobile phones en route to the workplace.
#5. Vendor’s viability
When you shortlist the software which meet your needs, take care of your budget and also the ones which offer scope for upgrades; you have to be very careful when selecting your vendor. Research is the key. Take adequate steps to ensure that the vendor has been around for quite some time and has enough customers on whom you can fall upon for review and feedback.
The customers they have served should match your business criteria too. For example, if you are a small sized business, it would be wiser to opt for those software vendors who mainly serve SMEs and not the ones whose major clients belong to Fortune 500 companies.
#6. Training and support
Feel free to discuss with the vendor the amount and quality of support they intend to offer. Implementation of software is a sensitive task. The vendor should take up the responsibility of offering support in form of any hardware device needed or in form of human support needed to train your staff in using the software. Some companies offer paid training (you need to include this in your cost analysis) while others offer free seminars or webinars (online seminars).
#7. Security, encryption and data backup
You are about to entrust your business, financial and personal data to the software. So, there is no compromising with the security of the data. The company should ensure data protection with adequate coding and encryption. There should be password protection for data integrity and the software should be well equipped to identify hackers and to lock up in time when any hacking attempt is made.
Data backup is another factor which needs to be considered. The software should ensure frequent backups with good firewall options at the data storage area. Also the security options of the server system where the data resides needs to be checked. Whether the server infrastructure is owned by the software company themselves or it is handed over to another hosting company.
#8. Ease of adoption
If the software you opt for gels well with your existing system of management, the transition becomes smooth and easy. The more complex a software is, the more time it will take for your staff to get used to it.
You could also go for a test drive or trial period before purchasing the software. Let your staff use the software for some days and take their feedback. Let them decide if the software meets their needs and challenges and if the software is easy and convenient to use. Remember, the users are the best judge. You want your software to improve your efficiency. A complicated and not so friendly software will only slow down the functionality of your business.
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