How to choose small business software
There are lots of small business software solutions out there to choose from – many fish in the technological sea, one might say. The question for how to choose small business software starts with identifying features for entering, viewing and maintaining customer information, as well as multifunctional job and appointment management features focused on how your employees act on the job.
Descartes wondered how he could go beyond doubt, and know things truly. He came up with the cogito ergo sum – I think therefore I am. 300 years later, Descartes is still taken very seriously by philosophers of different stripes. A computer can’t say “I think therefore anything ….” For the computer, it’s more like: “I calculate, therefore we are!” It’s because of the human interaction that what the computer does is meaningful.
Choosing a small business software solution the right way means preparations are needed from you, the business manager. How to choose small business software starts with making a plan to mitigate risk, save money and optimize resources.
How to choose small business software
- What Features do you Need? – Typically, there is a catalyst focused on a particular business need that starts to answer the question of how to choose small business software. But it’s important to create a list of all needs and wants for why the change is needed. List out the features needed in order of importance.
- Identify Stakeholders – Your project needs to have a list of stakeholders who will benefit from the small business software solution. For instance, customers, employees, dispatchers, accountants and managers all have roles that will be defined by the small business software solution.
- Talk to Stakeholders – Don’t try to go it alone when making a decision on which small business software solution is right for the business. Your accountant will have one perspective and your sales staff another. The IT department will certainly be involved, but perhaps the most important ones are your customers. Don’t be afraid to call one of your more personable ones and tell them the plan
- Assign Tasks and Responsibilities – Develop a list of tasks for each of these stakeholders. This is a procedures’ manual, in essence, with the tasks and responsibilities outlined for each employee at the business.
- Create a Road map – Your project needs a road map that defines the goals your organization wants to achieve. These goals you set out to accomplish won’t change along the way, because your core business will remain the same.
- Establish Deadlines for Implementation – What is a reasonable migration time for bringing your employees online with the small business software solution needed?
- Create a Budget – Don’t expect a free ride when it comes to finding a solution that fits your needs. Consider more than the cost for a small business software license. What resources will need to be allocated for the implementation of the small business software? Will consultants be needed? Are there technological requirements for database integrations? Will staff loose valuable time on the job because of training requirements?
- Identify Risks – How to choose small business software depends on identifying dangers with a major change in your business operations. Transitioning from an older software or manual system – no matter how antiquated – to a new business software system could impact the way employees interact with their customers while creating vulnerabilities in processes. Network and private security should also be tended.
- Where Will the Software be Used? – Small business software can be made available via mobile phones and tablets, but there are often tradeoffs for that convenience because of sizing and access restrictions. Where some features may be needed on the go, other features will not.
- Call the Small Business Software Vendors – Calling the small business software provider will allow you to determine what you might’ve left out. Listen to the questions they ask while determining their responsiveness at the same time. Small business software is only as good as the technologists who support the solution.
- Get a Demo – There’s nothing wrong with taking the car out for a spin, kicking the tires and spending time making sure the small business software solution is a right fit for your company.
Choosing a small business software solution the right way means understanding that it’s not really the software that is performing for you – you are using it, guiding it, molding it, and (don’t forget) feeding it regularly. Business owners must feed the software with data, interact with that data and leverage that information to maintain and grow the business. That’s how the computer, together with the software, knows about the real world. Without the human input, the computer is pretty useless.
Some people think they can just get a computer, with a bit of cheap software, and all will be done for them. However, the ones who get the most out of the small business software are those who work at it, interrogate it, demand more of it and think of new ways they can use it. They work in partnership with the software, and in partnership with the small business software technologists. And that’s how you do it! That’s how you and the computer become a powerful and thoughtful pair.