The software you choose for your small business can either boost productivity or be a great source of frustration. This process will help you choose the right software for your business.
DETERMINE YOUR NEEDS
One of the first steps in the software selection process is to determine what needs you have that software can fulfill. If you are already using software, you can begin by making a list of the things you like and do not like about the software you are currently using. Make a list of everything you think could be done better than how your current software does it and how you think those improvements could be made.
If you have a need that you are not currently using software for, you can start by outlining what you want the software to be able to do for you. For example, if you are considering route planning software, you may want it to be able to do things like determining the most efficient way for your sales reps to complete their routes.
FIGURE OUT WHO THE STAKEHOLDERS ARE
Stakeholders are all of the people in your business who will be affected in some way by the software you choose. Stakeholders typically include the employees who will use the software, managers, IT, security, and customers. Once you have figured out who your stakeholders are, you will need to determine what, if any, role they should have in choosing the software.
Because the different stakeholders will likely interact with the software in different ways, it can be a good idea to solicit feedback from all of them. Your main focus should probably be on the employees who will use the software as a core component of doing their jobs. You will want to get an idea of what they want to be able to do with the software and if possible, get them to test it out and give you feedback. However, it is also a good idea to get feedback from your IT and security team and other employees who may use some functions of the software or oversee employees who do.
When you are considering business software the vendor you choose can be very important. If you do not already have a software vendor in mind, you can try doing some research on Google.
The websites of the software you are considering may also have a list of authorized vendors.
Check with other businesses in your industry to find out what vendors they use. Look for customer testimonials. Consider what type of service the vendor offers after the sale. If something goes wrong with your software, you want to be able to get the problem resolved quickly, so that you do not end up with excessive amounts of downtime.
TRY OUT SOME OPTIONS
A new software package can be a huge investment in both time and money, so it is a good idea to try it out before you buy it. Ask the vendors you are considering if they have a demo or trial version of the software you can try. If they do, get some of your key stakeholders to try it out and provide feedback on what they do and do not like about the software. Ask the vendor questions about the software and find out if there are any customization options available that may address anything you do not like about the software.
PURCHASE AND INSTALL
After the trial process, you should have a shortlist of software packages and vendors you are interested in. Get them to make you an offer on the price of the software, installation, and support. Gather together this information with all of the feedback from stakeholders and make your purchasing decision.
The software you purchase for your business can have a major impact on how well your company is able to function. Carefully choosing the software and vendors you work with can help you avoid a costly mistake.