When you start or grow your business, you need more than a talented workforce. You need to equip your team with software that helps to get its work done quickly and efficiently. Software that empowers your team members to turn in accurate, high-quality work. In fact, it is hard to imagine a business that does not need software to run well.
Choosing the right business software increases productivity and helps measure progress. The best way to choose the software you need is to read comparative reviews on all the available packages. Although different vendors provide the same type of software, there will always be variations in functionality. This makes it easier to select the one most suitable for your business needs.
In addition to selecting the most appropriate, relevant or applicable software, it is important to speak directly with the vendors before buying. They will help you get a much better understanding of what their product can do and what training is necessary for your staff to get the most value out of it.
Major considerations before switching to a new software
Here are the three things to consider when buying software:
Size of your business
The type of software your business will need depends on its size. Small or medium-sized businesses and large businesses often use similar business applications like programs for accounting, team management, human resource management (HRM), customer relationship management (CRM) and even warehouse management systems (WMS). However, there will also be some crucial differences because of the size of the business. Consequently, a large organisation also benefits from enterprise level applications — that is, applications wider in scope. For instance, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and enterprise content management (ECM).
Your specific needs
It is not uncommon to discover that you may need to work with the vendor or a programmer to customise the software to suit your business, because it’s unlikely that your operation practices are exactly the same as all the other companies in your industry. So, while manufacturers of a particular type of business application do their best to address different types of business needs, it is often necessary to further customise the software because of different business environments. An off-the-shelf purchase is unlikely to fully address each business’s needs.
Desired level of interactivity
While software automates many processes, most require some level of user interactivity. This is why training your staff for a new software rollout plays such a huge role. Unless staff members understand how to use a program’s graphical user interface, they will not know how to query, modify or input data, nor will they comprehend how to read metrics from reports and charts. Still, many business apps can be set to run in batch mode, working on predetermined variables like event and time. As a result, a staff member will not need to initiate operations or monitor performance.
Don’t underestimate value of staff training
It is rarely enough to simply make good choices when it comes to buying business software. It is equally important to provide comprehensive staff training. While a small business software is often fairly intuitive because it is designed to meet the needs of the general public, many business applications are packed with so much functionality that it can often be bewildering to the uninitiated user. The vendor usually offers basic training, but it may not always be enough to get everyone up to speed. This is why it may be necessary to add in-house training or purchase an additional third-party training software.
The software you buy is designed to make your business easier to run, but if your staff doesn’t fully grasp how to use it, it can be a reason for tremendous frustration and a source of expensive mistakes. Conversely, if your team is well-trained, then it will be adept at managing cash flow, analysing sales, and generally improving the efficiency of all of your business processes. For instance, there is no point in choosing the right database applications if your IT staff member doesn’t know how to fix bugs, craft patches, or even update it.
In conclusion, get clear on the software your business needs, review the differences in the programs, work with the vendor to understand its diverse functions and provide comprehensive staff training to get the most value from it.