If you start a new business or your business grows, you will need to buy a new software for business. While it may sound simple, even tiny mistakes in selecting business software can harm your company.
You can buy, develop or use do-it-yourself business software, but buying a new software is often the most popular choice.
Business software is not something you can easily change or substitute. Usually costs of moving from one software to another is very high and it is better to think twice before choosing one.
Here are the steps to buying a solid business software that will support your company and lead it to success:
If you do a quick search for some kind of business software, like accounting, CRM, route planning, ecommerce platform etc., you will notice that there are two types of software vendors: vendors selling tools and vendors selling solutions.
How to distinguish vendors selling tools?
Software vendors selling tools usually have a page on their websites where you can read about every single feature of the software. If you want to read how to use the software, you can read about it on the help page.
Also, they have a very straightforward pricing model that is also available on their websites. Usually, they offer a free trial or a demo account and you can start trying and using the software right away.
What you can get from vendors selling tools?
Here you will get a tool that will do exactly what you have read on the features page. This is a good option if the tool really fits your case and you will not need to change it.
Also, note that this tool you can get right away. You don’t need to contact anyone; the price is not high and you can start using it in 5 minutes.
However, after that you will be on your own. It doesn’t mean that business software vendors of this type don’t provide any help and support. This means that you will have to use their API, read documentation, forums and other resources to integrate the software and better fit it into your company.
So, you must be sure that you are capable and have enough time to do it.
How to distinguish vendors selling solutions?
Software vendors selling solutions usually don’t describe every single feature of their software. They stress more how their solution solves problems and you can find many case studies and examples of successful stories.
Usually, you will not find a help page or API page on their website. Also, you will not find any clues about how much this software solution costs. Instead of this you will see a Contact Us button on every page.
What you can get from vendors selling solutions?
Software vendors of this type don’t sell tools that fit all companies. You will get a very customized solution that will fit the unique needs of your company.
Don’t expect that you will be able to use it soon. First, the vendor needs to understand the business processes of your company and the problem you would like to solve. Then, the solution must be customized according to your needs. Finally, it must be integrated and connected with your existing software.
As a result, you will get a great solution, but you should be ready to wait for it and pay a high bill.
Think about why you need a new business software and what it should do for your business. If you are going to substitute a software program that you are currently using, think it’s good and bad features and things that it lacks.
Create a list of must haves where you put all features of the software that are absolutely necessary for your business needs.
Put the rest of the features into a nice to haves list and put there all features that will make your life easier, but you can live without them as well.
These two lists must have all features that should the new software have. All programs are different and even if some features may look basic and you may think that they are included in every software, you must make sure that you will check that your new software will have these features.
Next, you should think about how much money you are ready to invest in the new business software. Usually, business software is not cheap and there may be many additional costs associated with using it. Some of the costs are maintenance costs, hardware costs, costs of learning the new system, integration costs, service and support costs.
Determine how important the business process is and how much money your company will earn or save with the new software. This may give you a good clue to determining an appropriate budget for the new business software.
Make a deep search for business software vendors selling the type of software you need. At this point, don’t eliminate any of the possible providers.
Find as many candidates as possible. Use your must haves list of features and decide if this computer program should be considered or not. You may need to make a quick call or request more information from some companies because they may have no such information on their websites.
But don’t invest too much time at this point, you are creating a broad list of possible providers.
Now move on to your nice to have list of features and assess each software from your broad list. Which of the vendors provide the most features from your list?
Find out if the software is within your budget. Consider all future costs associated with using the new business software. Also, decide what type of software vendor will be better for your case: the tool type or the solution type.
Now you should have short list with 3-5 candidates in it.
When you have a short list of the vendors you can invest more time in making a deeper analysis of each option.
The first and the most efficient method is trying each of the programs. Request a demo from each of the short-listed vendors and try to use it. Consider how fast the system is, how many clicks you need to do for each action, how good the layout is, how the interface can be adjusted, etc.
Note everything you liked and don’t liked in each of the business software option.
Don’t be on your own and ask your colleagues and the future internal users of the software for their opinion. This is another powerful method of making a deep analysis of a business software.
Even if you will be the only user of the program get opinion of someone else. The more people who will be influenced by or will work with the new business software are involved in the assessing process, the easier they will adopt it and buy-in into using it.
This is a very important factor because even the best software can fail if the internal users don’t want to use it.
Next, search for review and opinions of other people who already use this business software. Use forums and blogs to understand how each software performs in a long run.
Another great place for understanding possible issues of each program is the vendors pages in social network and their forums. If these resources are not moderated by the vendor, you will get a lot of valuable information from it.
Finally, you can choose the winner. Analyze all your findings and decide which of the business software vendors will be better in your case.
Consider the type of the vendor, features of its software, all costs associated with using the software, how good the demo of the software is, opinion of your colleagues and the future internal users and reviews and opinions of other companies using the software.
You did a lot of work and you know which business software you should select.
Now you are ready to contact the chosen software vendor. Don’t forget to discuss the timeline the of the integration process. If you are going to use your internal IT team, make sure they have enough skills and time for this.
After this you can buy the business software and enjoy using it.
Andrii is passionate about business and startup intelligence. As most of the startuppers he has got experience in almost all business areas.Andrii has MA in Marketing from the University of Queensland.
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