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Invest in the Right Software for Your Small Business

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Invest in the Right Software for Your Small Business | TechStak

March 6, 2018

Small businesses cannot function without using software, but not every new app or system is a must-have to transform your operations. With so many software and software as a service (SaaS) products now available, how does a small business choose which solutions to invest in? There are simply more products and apps than one could ever test on their own.

Here’s a guide to help you get started with your software discovery process so you are more confident in your software investments.

Analyze Your Specific Needs

One size does not fit all. Determine your goals and your businesses unique needs to determine the right software solutions.

Ask the right questions:

What problem(s) are you solving for?

What business function needs streamlining or improvement?

What tedious tasks do you have zero tolerance for?

Where do you want to gain time and efficiencies?

What workflows can (or should) be automated versus left manual or as a semi-manual process?

What industry specific requirements do I need to meet?

Take Away

Understanding your own needs and processes will help you get the most out of your tools. Figure out processes, workflows and communication before selection. Do not layer on tools if there is an issue.

Determine the Value-Add

Software can make many business processes easier and more efficient in addition to making them more accurate, reliable and portable. It can be a valuable tool, but it also can be a distraction. Don’t focus on bells and whistles that you don’t need – meaning look beyond features at what you’ll use to drive business outcomes.

Ask the right questions:

What value does the software investment bring to the business?

Does the app do what you need it to do to support your business?

Does the app or tool match workflows for the right fit?

Or will you need customization?

What improvements will be made?

What outcomes should you expect to see?

How will employees or customers be impacted?

Does the tool fit what the team is looking for?

Will all or most features be utilized?

Do we need to make this investment right now?

Take Away

Don’t select software solutions based on features or what seems shiny or cool. Only get new apps when you need them. Again, do not layer on tools if there is no value-add to your business operations or serving your customers.

Define Your budget

SaaS can be more scalable and cheaper than traditional software as well as easier to integrate using APIs. When determining your budget, consider cost but pay for value as you may find it difficult to change after you’ve an initial investment. Start small and only pay for what you need. You can then scale up as your business grows. Many vendors offer different packages and levels of service. There are a lot of free trials (some with no credit card required) that allow you to try out the software before committing to a purchase. There are also a lot of free apps with good value.

Ask the right questions:

How many users for each application will you need? Is there a team package?

Is it more efficient to buy licensing through a third party supplier?

Have you considered getting the licensing through a cloud provider?

Will you have staff to manage licenses/compliance?

Do you need to allow for staff growth in the number of licenses purchased?

Take Away

You can start small and scale – but don’t skimp as it can be difficult to make a change down the road. Consider value versus cost versus need. Overall, the app should add value to the business.

Ability to Integrate

Software is built to simplify complexity and automate tasks within your business. To maximize the value of the different tools or subsystems you are considering you will want them to work together. When making your selection, focus on usability and integration capabilities that are aimed at solving the need and meeting your goals. The number of tools you are using may also become an issue when linking diverse systems and applications. You may need to consider a narrow but powerful group of tools.

Ask the right questions:

How many tools are you using?

Are you using too many?

Are any redundant?

How will you manage all the subsystems?

Do they integrate?

Are you using tools from one centralized platform?

Take Away

Integration is key for maximizing value and meeting business goals. When making your selection remember to review integration capabilities. Integration can become a challenge the greater the number of systems that are involved.

Summary

Choosing software can be an arduous, time-consuming process, involving countless hours of research, trial and error, and, inevitably, may include some failure.

Half the battle is knowing how to get started and what key questions to ask.

Get feedback from others in your industry or from like businesses. Although you are sure to get different recommendations for the best tools, the insights from those using specific applications is valuable.

What matters most is getting a tool to fit your business needs.

Once you’ve found an app that works for you, tell others about it to help them simplify their software discovery process.

You can also download and share our Software Discovery Guide.

Software Discovery Guide.PNG

UseTechStak to find the right IT provider that can help with your IT consulting or project management needs as well as integrate your systems.

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