5 Major Steps when Choosing a Software Solution for your Small Business

Founding a small business requires your undivided attention when it comes to various details. One of those crucial details when starting a business is your software solution. If you choose a tool that doesn’t perfectly suit your needs, you might end up wasting money on something you rarely use. From accounting solutions to project management tools, you can utilize a variety of modern tech options. However, some common criteria can be applied on each and every of those tools. Therefore, we’ve prepared five key considerations you should bear in mind when choosing any sort of software solution.

1. Noting down your expectations

The entire process of searching for the perfect software solution for your small business will depend on your expectations. Therefore, once you realize there’s a need for a new tool, you should first note down your expectations.

For starters, think about the amount of time you and your employees will save using that new tool. It’s an important feature that should be taken into consideration. Also, introduce – or improve the existing employee time-tracking system – and increase productivity.

Furthermore, as the number of your clients keeps growing, your new software solution should be able to help you meet those increased work tasks, as well. In return, the level of your clients’ satisfaction with your services will improve, as well. For instance, a new project management tool can speed up the communication between you and your clients.

Moreover, another important feature derived from the software-choosing procedure is improved employees’ satisfaction. If they get a chance to perform their tasks with top-notch software solutions, they’ll be more contented with their work place. As a result, your entire small business will thrive and develop to more advanced stages.

2. Defining the return on investment

Paying a monthly fee or a product that is seldom used is a waste of resources. And this is something no small business owner can afford. Because of that, it’s necessary to define your return on investment in advance.

In other words, you should measure the actual need for that particular software solution in your business. Only if your team can’t cope with the workload using their current tools you should introduce a new software solution.

For instance, if your in-house accountant is in over their head and can’t handle all the work on their own, you can analyze some accounting tools and choose a new one. Going for a new solution is justified if it will improve the productivity of your accounting team or your accountant. Otherwise, it won’t bring the satisfying return on investment.

3. Assessing your current and future needs

When thinking about the perfect software solution for your current needs, you should think about the future, as well. The fact is that technology is changing as you read. Therefore, what seems like a cutting-edge offer today might become an obsolete tech junk in no time. It would be a shame for a small business to invest assets into a solution that ends in the tech gutter.

To avoid such an outcome, you should take a proactive approach and figure out where you see your business in two years’ time. How does the chosen software solution fit into that image?

In line with that, ask the provider for more information on the updates and the availability of that solution. Also, they should tell you if you’ll need to pay some extra money for some more demanding updates. Whenever possible, always opt for a smaller package of services and leave an option to upgrade if your workload requires more services.

4. Discussing the software solution with your staff

A friend of mine is a teacher and he works for a translation company. A few months ago, her boss decided that every translator working for him had to start using a translation software tool (Trados). The issue was the fact that he neither informed the employees in advance nor ensured a course to help them master that tool. Luckily, it wasn’t too complex, so they managed to learn how to use it quite soon.

The moral of this story is that you should always ask your employees for an opinion before introducing tool on your own. This is even more recommended for small businesses because it’s easier to communicate it in a familiar environment.

Your employees might suggest a better solution, especially if they’re more into technology than you.

Apart from that, you should also introduce your employees gradually to the software you opt for. If necessary, send your employees to a course, to learn how to use the tool. Also, you could invite educators and organize an in-house course – a great option for larger small businesses.

If your employees are included in the decision-making process, they’ll appreciate your effort and embrace the new software solution.

5. Asking for a trial period

Closely related to the topic of the first paragraph, it’s vital for your budget to ask for a trial period. If you’re allowed to try a product for free, you’ll manage to avoid numerous potential risks.

First and foremost, you’ll see whether the chosen software solution matches to your business needs. When you try it, you’ll see whether you should opt for a bigger package or a smaller one.

Moreover, you’ll get more information from your employees regarding the level of complexity of the solution. During the trial period, you can test another tool and see if your employees find it easier to work with.

Many providers of business software solutions offer a trial period. However, you need to be cautious when you’re accepting the terms and conditions of a software tool. Sometimes a trial period is allowed, but they’ll charge you later if you don’t cancel the account before the end of the trial period. Hence, always carefully read those rules and don’t agree to anything that might reduce your freedom of choice.

Conclusion

Improving your business with new software solutions is something you need to do from time to time. Still, if you choose the tool that meets your needs, you’ll only have to adapt to its new versions. In order to get there, always shop around and check the conditions with different providers. Also, talk to your employees about that need and ask them to help you find the right software solution. After that, organize training for them, to make their work easier as soon as possible. All these moves will equip you with a great software solution for your small business.

Mark Thomasson
Mark is a biz-dev hero at Invoicebus - a simple invoicing service that gets your invoices paid faster. He passionately blogs on topics that help small biz owners succeed in their business. He is also a lifelong learner who practices mindfulness and enjoys long walks in nature more than anything else.
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