As your business grows, you’ll find different software tools are required to help keep things running smoothly. But buying a software solution for your small business can be a daunting task. There are lots of options to choose from, and it’s your task to determine which are the most valuable for you. The wrong decision can mean wasted money, time and effort, — and can even hold you business back from growing. With so much on the line, how can you make sure you’re making the right choice? Here are a few software tips to help navigate your options.
Know what you want to achieve
Before diving headfirst into your next software hunt, consider the problem you want to solve. Or, if you already have software that isn’t cutting it, analyze what pain points with your current solution need to be eradicated.
Once you’re clear on the problems you need to solve, you can start to think about what features or functionality your new software must have.
When defining your must-haves, focus on core functions and features — the ones that are integral to fixing your problem. These must-haves can then be used as a guideline to help you refine your software search and evaluate which software products or services are right for you. You can also make a list of nice-to-have features that, while not imperative, might make a solution stand out.
Be wary of the pitfalls
Unfortunately, there are a few pitfalls to avoid and factors to consider when choosing the right software solution for you.
First, you need to be wary of vapourware. Vapourware is software that is marketed and sold, even though it doesn’t exist. To avoid it, one of our top software tips look for options that have a free trial or working demo, as these are less likely to be vapourware. Also, be sure to check that any features on your must-have list are already available and work well.
It can also help to research the vendor’s track record. You can do this by looking at previous customer reviews, comments, and case studies. You can also look at other businesses that use the software you’re considering. If the comments are mostly positive, or there are other businesses like yours using the software, you might have found an option worth evaluating further.
Consider the impact
Buying a new software solution can be impactful to your security, your data, and your team. So, for each software solution, whether it’s on-premises or SaaS, be sure to consider the impact that choosing it could have.
Cybercrime is a real concern in today’s tech climate, and you don’t want your new software solution or service to provide a backdoor into your data. So another of our top software tips is to extensively examine the security of the software and its vendor. You can do this by quizzing the vendor about their security procedures and track record. You can also look at their privacy policies and ask about their back-up plans, downtime and security measures.
Then, you need to consider the initial impact that installing and using the software could have on you and your team. It could require extra resources like time and effort. So, before choosing your new software, make sure you’re clear on the additional resource costs. Will the installation take a long time, or be effortless? Will your team need training? Will there be ongoing support while you use the software, and will that support cost more?
Focus on the long-term
When making any big decision, it can be tempting to focus on the short-term costs and benefits. However, when evaluating software, it’s important to consider the long-term goals of your business too.
You need your software to be flexible. The program or service you choose not only needs to integrate with your existing processes and programs, but needs to be flexible enough to scale with your business as well. If you’re hoping to grow your team or expand your reach globally, you don’t want to find yourself suddenly held back by your software.
Get the right software solution for you
It’s important to make sure that the software solution you ultimately choose will best serve your needs. And that means knowing exactly what you want from your software, both short term and long term. You need to be aware of the upfront costs, the impact of implementation, and your exit strategy in case things do go wrong.
With these software tips, and taking the time to test the water, you can find the right software solutions for your business, without fear of it holding your growth back.
The SmallBizRising Blog is designed to be an educational content hub pulling information, best practices and practical advice for the small business owner and features topics including accounting, marketing, technology and more. Be sure to subscribe to stay up to date with new content as it is posted. The blog was created by The Neat Company and receives contributed content from a group of contributing companies that provide technology, services and solutions to small businesses.