Choosing the right software platform for a small business can be a massive task. There are too many to choose from, and they all offer something different. According to Theresa Lanowitz, analyst at Voke, it can cost up to $700 000 to fix a problem caused by poor software choises.
Choosing business software requires time, money, and learning to implement effectively. And if you go through all of that effort and it ends up being a poor choice, you're stuck doing it all over again. That's a lot of waste. So before you get started on choosing the right business management platform, whether it's for CRM, accounting, project management, team collaboration, or something else entirely, make sure to ask yourself these five questions.
What are my company's future needs?
It's all too easy to think only about some solution that you need right now, but what about your future? You might know that you need an accounting platform to help you organise your finances, but in a few months time a CRM system may be more important to you.
Instead of jumping in to what you need today, think about your needs tomorrow. Even if you decide not to buy into that software right now, at least you'll be prepared when the time comes.
What value will my business get from this software?
Not all software is created equally, and with some platforms it can be difficult to identify the tangible benefits to your company over the "cool stuff" mentality. Think about the expected value of each implementation, which might include things such as;
Does the software that you're looking at provide the right kind of value for your company?
What are the software's contract terms?
In today's business environment, software doens't have to be provided as a fixed up front cost, nor does it need to come with months or years of contractual obligations. More importantly, business and technology are constantly changing. If you get tied into a multi-year contract, can you see your company using the same software all the way through it?
Keep in mind that many great cloud platforms exist that provide you with free options, trials and no fixed contracts. They're adaptible and work with your changin business.
Do I really need all that?
Consider the features that you really need. It's easy to get caught up in fancy copyrighting and carefully chosen testimonials. But think carefully about your business needs. The marketing often makes you feel like you're getting more for the extra $50 you'll be spending, but if you aren't using the extra features, then why pay for them?
Can I test this out in my environment?
There's nothing quite like testing out a solution in your specific circumstances. Many software platforms allow you to make use of a free trial or free account, and it can be a huge benefit to try it out before you really commit. And testing out an example version of the software often doesn't give you enough of a real understanding of how it'll work for you.