It is a process that all businesses go through and likely much more than one time, but software selection can be challenging. Not merely does your purchase come with a substantial cost (where you will have to prove justifiable ROI), but it’ll probably influence the company and the employees of its for a few years.
Having been involved with the software selection process as project lead, I can understand the weight of responsibility you might feel if you’re picking up the reins for the first time. Making the wrong decision can sting, from the cost and disgruntled colleagues of running out the contract to than going through the entire selection process again.
Nevertheless, when you get it right, the results may be transformative. Increased productivity, greater visibility, and better collaboration between departments are just several of the benefits, but you have to go along with the proper procedure to achieve them. Below I have outlined several of the dos and don’ts when selecting the very best application for the business. This could apply to any software, whether you are looking for a new CRM or perhaps a marketing automation platform, or perhaps you have to update your accounting application.
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Tips for business software selection one
1. Do involve the colleagues of yours
Unless you are a single employee, your decision will probably impact others in the workplace, so it is only fair that they must get a say too. While you might have a concept of the overarching goal for every department, it is unlikely you will know every single process, feature, and activity they use on a day-to-day basis.
You do not have to take them into every conversation, but it is crucial that employees feel valued and that their opinions count. For instance, when viewing demos, I invited the Sales to team ours into the percentage of the meeting just where we were reviewing sales tools. It took 20 30 minutes of the time theirs and allowed them to see the software program in action, ask questions and find out if it lined up with the daily tasks.
It might look like such a simple thing, but you would be surprised the number of companies decide the board level without consulting the employees of theirs. Then they are wondering why there are actually grumbles when the software program is actually rolled out to those that have to use it day-in-day-out!
When working with larger teams, you could nominate one person to collect questions, feedback, and requirements on behalf of the division. The way you still involve the relevant folks without causing a lot of disruption.
2. Do fully understand the requirements of yours
Before you start to contact suppliers, you have to figure out why you are doing it, why you are doing it now, and what the objective yours is. This’s your project brief, and also, you want it to share with suppliers and evaluate options. In case you had been looking for CRM and marketing automation software, for instance, the brief of yours may look something like this:
Issue: We currently use seven different applications to run sales and marketing activity, but none of them integrates well with one another. Marketing struggles to collect both departments, and complete data are actually working in silos, unaware of the other’s activity.
Timing: Both departments will be growing by thirty-five % in the next 6 to 12 months, so the current issues will increase, affecting the ability to meet targets.
Aim: To find one centralized platform to run, analyze, and report all sales and marketing actions.
Goal: To align both departments and increase visibility, allowing us to improve lead nurturing through the entire sales pipeline.
On a side note, in case your project brief contains anything as “we want to purchase this software because all our competitors have it,” then step away right now. This’s not a valid reason behind undertaking a project, whether you are migrating to the cloud, purchasing new accounting software, or perhaps any other line of business software.
You will also need to include relevant employees in the building of this brief, as you will have to get the input of theirs on features. I would suggest each team create a “needs and wants” list. Needs are actually the features or perhaps functionality that they definitely cannot work without, whereas wants are actually the ones they’d love to have. Ask them to think about what works well with the current software, what issues they have run into already, and any potential problems they see in the future. It does not have to be an in-depth list, but only the individuals who use the software program every day can show you exactly how they make use of it.
3. Do reach out to the network of yours
When we purchase as a consumer, we are often quick to reach out to friends and family to ask for their recommendations – whether it is for a new bottle of foundation or perhaps deciding which automobile dealership to engage with. I’d suggest bringing this buying behavior into the workplace also.
Speak with relevant folks in the network of yours and reach out to peer groups to ask the opinion theirs on the applications you are considering. Ask them about the decision-making process, what applications they considered, and why they chose that one. Did the software live up to expectations, or perhaps are they now facing another brutal evaluation process? Ideally, you will want to speak to those in a similar industry and of a similar size to yourself. An enterprise-level business will have entirely different requirements to a growing one, and what’s ideal for one is actually not likely to be for the other.
Nevertheless, on this note, I retain a proper level of skepticism when it comes to online reviews. For every positive singing its praises, you will find a negative lamenting the software program as probably the worst decision they ever made. One individual will say the interface is intuitive and simple; another will say it is clunky and makes their job infinitely more challenging. Naturally, several of these come down to personal preference, but you have also got to keep the background in mind. You’ve no clue how this company went about the decision-making process. Perhaps they were mis-sold, or perhaps their requirements list was inaccurate, so although the software program lined up, it was not what they needed?
Reviews are also likely the personal experience of a single employee who can also have the motives theirs. Perhaps they are reluctant to change, fearful the program will replace the role of theirs or perhaps just disappointed that they were not consulted even one time during the decision-making process.
After the day, you can consider reviews as part of the process; simply take them with a pinch of salt and do not base the entire decision on them.
4. Do you think long-term
Major software purchases aren’t a process you need to be going through every year, so you have to think about your company’s future. What exactly are the long-term aims, and how does the software fit into the achievement of these. You require software that is actually versatile and can grow alongside you, adapting to the changing needs.
You will probably require your brand new software to integrate with existing systems, so you have to realize what’s possible. Does the seller have a limited library of integrations or perhaps an open API you could theoretically hook anything up to? Are they native integrations, or perhaps do you have to involve third-party companies? Bear in mind this might come with extra costs, whether it is a one-off setup fee, monthly charge, or perhaps both. Based on what software you are looking at, you might have to involve developers in creating bespoke integrations, which can send things skyrocketing. This does not mean the software is easily a no-go; again, you have to relate to your project brief. Thinking long term, what might look like a big initial outlay could translate into huge ROI in increasing capabilities and productivity.
As part of this, you also need to establish how the pricing structure changes. For instance, if the amount of data you needed to store increased, or perhaps you’d new team members who needed a chance to access the program.
5. Do not get distracted by’ bells & whistles’
Working in the IT industry, I have realized that technology is actually the very last portion of the puzzle. Nevertheless, I also understand how distracting’ shiny’ features are actually. Some software program is going to have plenty of various characteristics. With these typically presented in a tiered format, you can quickly become bogged down by the detail.
With the rise of automation and AI being used for things like predictive analysis and decision-making, the software can do some really’ cool’ things. Thus, it is essential to take a step back and consider this feature actually necessary for my company? Indeed, it might be cutting edge, but how will it enable you to achieve your goals, and do you’ need’ it right now? Always relate it to your project brief and your requirements list. If this’s the first foray of yours into automation, for instance, do you want the ability to produce advanced 60 step workflows with predictive analysis? Perhaps in several years, when you have proved the ROI of automated workflows and need more advanced segmenting features, but too much at once can be overwhelming.
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