Whatever the business need, you can almost guarantee there’s software for it (or many). With so much choice out there, it can be difficult to know which one will work best for your company. Since you’re going to be putting your money and business-critical tasks through it, you need to be sure that it’s the right one.
Rather than just opting for the first software product you find on Google, you need to create a solid plan on how you spec and select your product.
Follow this guide on choosing the best software for your needs and reduce the chances of choosing an unsuitable one.
Get input from all stakeholders
Rather than software being chosen in isolation by a particular person or department, it’s sound practice to get everyone involved who is going to have anything to do with the software. This can include the people who are going to be using it day to day, managers, and technical support. If any element of the software is going to be client-facing, then you should also get some clients involved too.
Rather than it being a free-for-all, collect and document who will be involved in the decision, what their role will be, and how much weight their recommendation will carry.
Decide what you need your software to do
Some software systems can be fairly broad and others have an extremely niche focus. For example, Route Optimization Consultants https://routeoptimizationconsultants.com/waste-routing-software/routing-optimization-for-waste-management/ specialize in software specifically for routing optimization for waste trucks. Such specialism is needed in certain areas. In contrast, project management systems can have a much broader remit and integrate with other systems.
Make a wish list for your software, from what you need it to do, the systems it needs to integrate with to the reporting requirements. It may be that the perfect software doesn’t exist, but having a picture of what you need is a good start and will allow you to find the best combinations of software.
Decide on which features are essential or just nice to have. It will help you further down the line when you’re choosing.
Don’t be shortsighted
When choosing software, you want to be sure that it’s going to suit your needs both short and medium term. After all, you don’t want to be running another costly exercise again in a few months’ time because you’ve outgrown it. Look at your realistic growth plans for the next few years and ensure that any software you do pick is going to scale with you to a reasonable degree.
Many platforms will allow you to scale up by simply increasing the number of licenses you have, so will work perfectly well if you’re increasing your headcount. However, if you’re scaling up in other ways or need more features and integrations that aren’t available, then you’re going to have to look at a potentially pricey and time-consuming change.
Search for relevant software
Get an overview of the software market so you can see what’s out there. There are many ways to do this such as doing a Google search, asking for recommendations online, and looking at sites such as Capterra and G2.
Make a shortlist
Compare the software features to your initial wish list. If you’re lucky, you’ll discover a few different ones that fit the bill, or you’ll have to select those which cover the most important features you’re looking for.
When you’re ready, get in touch with your shortlist. They will be able to answer your questions and arrange specific demos and free trials for you. If you can set up a free trial yourself, it’s still a good idea to talk to someone as they will be able to help you get the most out of your trial.
If the company is going to do a demo, ensure that your main stakeholders are there. Ask as many questions as you need to and don’t be afraid to go back to them later with additional questions too.
If you’re planning on taking up free trials, try and stagger this so that you’re only focusing on one software platform at a time. Ensure that everyone involved in the trial has been briefed and read through all of the supporting documentation needed. Rather than just jumping in and playing around with the features, set up a dummy project or task that you can see through from start to finish.
Bespoke software development
As mentioned earlier, the vast range of software out there means that you’re going to be able to find something suitable for you. But in some cases, a bespoke solution could be the answer. Obviously, this might also be the costlier choice too.
In this case, you should do a cost-benefit analysis on bespoke software versus what’s already on the market.
Collect feedback from stakeholders
Once the demos and free trials are over. Come back together as a team and discuss the pros and cons of each. It will also be a good time to think about the practicalities of maintaining and supporting the platform too. What type of training will people need, and how will you be supported if there’s an issue?
Many software services have some pricing information on their website. It can differ due to the features your want or the number of users you have. But usually, there is the opportunity to negotiate pricing and features to get the best deal for your company. Don’t be scared to do this with a few companies in order to leverage the best price.
Using the right software for your business is very important. Not only can it improve how your business runs but can save you huge amounts of time and money than if you were doing things manually.
But the wrong software can cause a lot of issues if it’s not suitable for your needs. Taking time to choose the right one for you might seem like an inconvenience but is definitely worth it considering the advantages.