In this modern-day, every business or organization needs software to automate repetitive tasks and to ensure processes are streamlined. A business can opt to streamline processes in various departments such as sales, marketing, finance, customer care, logistics, etc.
Software in businesses or organizations offers various benefits. However, choosing the wrong software can create a breaking point for your business. It is said that; it is better for a business to lack software than to buy the wrong software.
Software purchase decisions can be made by business users or by the IT department depending on whether the software is for functional needs or for company wide use. Either way, it is important to choose the right software that is designed for your specific business needs and has a proven track record in similar businesses. Choosing the right software to implement into your business can be a heart-wrenching process.
The market is flooded with software options, performing the same functions but with slight differences. The first step in purchasing software to use for specific functions is to accept that the current solution is inadequate.
In this article, we go through the best practices to use when choosing software.
Know Why You Need the Software
Similar to any other purchase made in life, you have to identify why you need to make the purchase. Before buying software, you have the intended use for it or the department that will use it.
Go through all the functions of that department. This will help you create a comprehensive list of all the functions you expect the software to handle. This will help alleviate cases of buying a second software or resorting to manual methods to tackle some parts of the process.
Most software offer free trial versions. The free trial versions offer the user a chance to test the software and see whether it works well for their use cases. When using the free trial version, you can use an automated testing tool to test the software’s efficiency.
The automated software testing tool will run automated tests to test the efficiency of the software in performing the intended use cases. Automated testing is faster and more efficient as compared to manual testing.
Writing a comprehensive list of your needs will help you narrow down the list of available software options.
After testing the available software and ascertaining that they perform the intended tasks as required, you now have to prioritize your needs. You should have three prioritization levels. The levels are vital, conditional, and perfect extras.
Needs or requirements that lie at the vital level are those that must be met. Software that does not address these needs cannot be purchased. Needs that lie in the conditional level are those that are not critical to the functioning of the software in its use cases. However, if these needs are addressed, they will improve work or productivity rates in the organization significantly.
The perfect extras level consists of features that are not needed by the business or organization. However, if these features are available, they would be of some use even if their intended use is not perceivable at the moment.
Before buying software, it is important to note the integration capabilities supported by the software. Businesses often have different software for different services. Acquiring software that integrates easily with the preexisting software ensures a smooth experience for the business.
Acquiring software that offers native integration with existing software also offers a seamless experience for the business’ IT personnel. This is because they will not struggle to link the existing services to the new business software.
When choosing software for your business, you should also try as much as possible to buy future-proofed software. Analyze your business functions so that you can come up with a list of system software integrations you might need in future. You should then choose software based on the support for future integrations that you might need.
The geographical support of a software is a factor that often gets ignored by most people when choosing software. Various software companies support their product’s use in specific countries. An example of this is Apple News, which is only supported in some specific countries.
When purchasing software, you should look into the company’s website to see whether your specific region is supported. Lack of company support due to the region can negatively impact your experience with the software.
Ensuring that the software is supported in your region should therefore be a vital consideration. Region support ensures that you get future software security updates, localization support and feature updates. For some software, having regional support is also considered when consulting the company for some support.
Total Cost of Ownership
Similar to any other business purchase, budgets experience alterations due to additional expenses or other causes. Before seeking to purchase your software, you should already have your set budget in place.
Having a predetermined budget helps to ensure that your purchase does not go overboard and impact other functional aspects of the business or organization. After seeing the available software in the market, consider the additional expenses that each software brings in.
When acquiring software, there can be additional costs such as:
- Software support cost
- User training cost
- Cost of future updates
Some software has extremely high hardware requirements to ensure they perform well. In such a situation, the money to upgrade existing computing hardware to attain the required computing power is an additional expense.
In another situation, maybe the software requires high internet bandwidth to operate well. The money required to make the internet bandwidth upgrade is the additional cost. This is a crucial step that must be done with utmost accuracy.
Industry support is a key factor to be considered when selecting business software. Similar to other professions, software development companies can specialize in developing software for specific industries.
When looking to purchase software, it is good practice to look up the intended market for the software. Take for instance a CRM software. Some software companies develop CRM software that is specifically designed for use by media companies. When purchased by a real estate company, the software will not be as efficient as when used by the intended market.
Software Validation and Selection
This is the final stage when choosing software to purchase. You now compare the list of software that has made it this far against the set budget and additional cost limits. This step aims to get the best software among all the contenders.’
At this point, you can also look at other additional features that the software incorporates. Independent software developers create some software. The software may sometimes be better than the rest but ends up lacking in terms of additional features and services.
At this point, you will realize that most enterprise software offers additional services. The extra services and features offered by enterprise software are:
- 2-10 years of software support and updates. The figure can range based on the company that has developed the software.
- Free user training sessions about how to use the software. This will help your personnel to adopt and know how to use the software fast.
- Software vendor support. This can include services such as free software implementation and customization to suit your needs.
After keenly analyzing the software, you make your decision. While making your decision, you can seek the counsel of trusted associates or the persons who will be using the software.
When choosing a software solution, you should also try and visualize the future of your business with that software solution. Oftentimes, businesses choose software while addressing their current needs only without considering the usefulness of the software in a few years.
To ensure that your business does not outgrow the software in less than the expected time, you must future-proof the solution. Future-proofing means that you choose your solution while analyzing whether it will be useful for its full expected lifespan.