Getting the right software can be a game-changer for your business. If you get it right, it can make a big difference to your bottom line by greatly improving the productivity of your staff. However, getting it wrong can be costly both in terms of the money and time wasted. So how do you avoid making this potentially expensive mistake? We take you through the top 6 things to consider before you choose some new software.
- Assess the problem you’re trying to solve.
To get a better idea of what product you need, list the challenges you want the software to overcome and put them in order of priority. This will enable you to focus on exactly the features you need and not get distracted by the “bells and whistles” that look good but don’t do what you really need them to. Also, remember to take into account what your future requirements may be and include these in your list.
- List the features you need.
Having identified the issues the software needs to address, you can now make a list of the features you would like the software to have. At this stage, it may be worth having a look at the different products available as there may be some features that you’re not aware of and which are necessary for achieving the outcomes you want. Once you have your list, sort the features into “must haves” and “nice to haves”. To ensure your lists remain manageable, keep them to a reasonable size with no more than 5 “must haves” and 8-10 “nice to haves”. At this stage, it’s also handy to have a rough idea of what your budget is.
- Get feedback from your team.
This is a vital but often overlooked step. You need to ensure your team has buy-in from the start and the best way to do this is to have them involved from the beginning. They can also let you know if there’s anything on the list of desired features that should be changed or added. Getting the end users involved as part of the selection process will increase the chances of the software being used and the project being a success.
- Narrow down your options.
Once you have your list of potential products/vendors, it’s time to reduce the options to a more manageable size. Don’t just rely on the product information provided by the vendor. There are a number of comparison sites and even online forums such as Whirlpool where you can get an unbiased view of the product. Score each product against your “must have” and “nice to have” lists and eliminate any that don’t make the grade.
- Get a demo and a quote.
Now that you’ve narrowed your list down to your top 3, it’s time to get a demo of the product. Obviously, it’s better if your end users will be at the demo and preferably will have a chance to use the software themselves. A free trial of the product is ideal. When comparing pricing, you need to consider all upfront and ongoing costs. Also find out about training costs and whether upgrades are included in the price. In addition, you should determine if any customization is required, if the product will integrate with any existing software (if necessary) and if you need to purchase any additional hardware. Finally, consider who is going to run and maintain the software once it’s installed – can this be managed with the existing head count or will you need to budget for additional hours or staff?
- Make your final decision.
You should now be in a position to make your final decision having weighed up all the features and benefits, compared the costs and seen the software in action. Even at this stage, it’s important you take your time and don’t feel pressured to purchase something until you’re completely comfortable with your choice.
Purchasing new software for your business can be a daunting prospect but, by following the above steps and taking your time when choosing, you can make the process a lot easier. If you need any assistance or some unbiased advice on new software for your business, please get in touch – we’d love to help.
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