When your business has grown to the point that manual processes and collections of spreadsheets are hurting your potential rather than helping, it’s time to look into the benefits that a business management software (BMS) can provide. Software is a huge part of doing business, and there are a dizzying number of options to consider. Where do you start? Begin with what matters most; your needs. Let’s look at some considerations to help you find a solution that fits your needs, returns long-term benefits, and provides a foundation that will help you continue to grow your business.
What Are Your Headaches?
This question will help you narrow down the plethora of solutions out there. After all, you’re not usually researching new software just for the fun of it. Business software should streamline and automate your business operations. Once you identify your specific pain points, then you can focus on the software options which specifically address those problems. Much of the time, these issues involve:
- Redundant work and data entry
- Several individual softwares that don’t work together well (or at all)
- Inefficient manual processes
- No central location for information
- Lack of real-time insight
What Are Your Workflow Needs?
The first step in tackling this question is to understand your workflow very specifically. Have discussions with all those involved so you understand each step of their processes and how they contribute to the overall workflow. Create a map of the workflow then review with these things in mind:
- How do you need to track daily activities?
- What information do you need to collect?
- What is working well?
- Where are the problems?
- Who needs access to this information?
- How do you want the information displayed?
Going through this exercise will help ensure you don’t leave out any important parts of your process. It will also identify the strengths and weaknesses of your workflow. Any software solution should support your workflow strengths while eliminating or improving the weaknesses.
Are There Compliance or Other Considerations?
As you are analyzing your workflow, be aware of any regulations or compliances you must adhere to. These should be among the first requirements you consider when looking for a software solution. They may lead to needing increased detail or documentation for parts of the process as well as potential for additional oversight. Carefully review these needs to be sure any product you are considering covers each adequately. Other considerations are things like integrations with existing programs, hosting, and security.
What is the Involvement and Ability of Your Team?
Next, take into account the members of your team that will be using the software on a day-to-day basis. If a software solution asks something new and different from your team, it can easily lead to knee-jerk resistance. However if you include them in the process, it can greatly increase acceptance and user buy-in. As an example:
- Share the list of problems you are working to solve and demonstrate how it can benefit them.
- Ask for opinions and insights as part of your workflow research.
- Realistically evaluate your team’s average level of technical ability.
- Have a plan and timeframe for the training needed to get everyone up to speed with the solution.
These things can help combat any feelings that key decisions were made by management without considering the impact on a department’s actual needs. The results of these discussions shouldn’t discourage you from getting a solution that’s right for your business, but are definitely worth considering before making a commitment.
Have You Weighed Features Against Your Budget?
With all the things that software can do for your business, it’s easy to lose sign of what you truly need it to do. While having all the bells and whistles sounds great, your budget may say otherwise. Here are some suggested considerations:
- Have a general budget in mind before you start looking for solutions.
- Evaluate your list of problems and attach a value to each – how much is each solution worth to your company?
- Prioritize your needs and trim unnecessary features.
- How could your increased efficiency and/or revenue from the solution lead to a greater ability to reinvest in your solution?
Keep in mind that as your company grows, some software can grow right alongside it. Also be sure to allocate for any onboarding, training, or initial implementation expenses.
What Are the Options for Expandability or Customization?
As mentioned earlier, some software is customizable by design. This can be incredibly valuable if you need to reproduce a unique set of workflow requirements. Additionally, if the solution can be expanded even after the initial implementation, you can start with a smaller set of initial requirements (as well as a smaller price tag), and invest in additional features as your company grows. This way you’re not overextending your budget at the beginning. Instead, you can budget for more advanced features in the future when you really need them. Some considerations are:
- Ask if the software can be customized to match your processes.
- Does the software need to be configured all at the beginning, or can changes be made later?
- If you’re on a tight budget, start small with only the features you actually need.
- Later, as you grow, you can implement additional features like extra admin controls or customization.
- Expandability and customizability gives you the ability to pivot with unforeseen business changes without having to scrap the solution and start all over.
The Right Software Can Help Your Company Flourish.
The most important consideration when searching for a business management software is to ensure that it can grow with your business at a pace with your budget. A return on investment analysis will help determine if your needs can be met within a timeline that works for you. Ultimately, any solution you choose should make it easier to do what you do, and be more profitable while doing it.
It’s also important to consider the support and service that is provided after the sale. Is the provider a true partner in your growth, or will they be difficult to engage after the initial implementation with long waits? With so many options out there, it can be tough to decide where to start.
Dorian Solutions is here to help you at any point in the journey from process review and analysis to software development, integration, or implementation. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or to request a call. Our mission is to provide you with the tools you need to get back to growing your business, and not just running it!