There really hasn’t been a better time for small businesses when it comes to getting great features and functions at reasonable prices. It used to be only the big players that could have the cool toys. This is because it previously required putting down big money just to get things up and running. With the cloud and the rise of SaaS (Software as a Service) we can get big features for monthly (often per seat) pricing.
It’s not all beer and skittles though. Let’s look at some important things to consider and hopefully save you some time, money and frustration.
We use technology in business to make things faster, more reliable and more efficient. It also makes our work more enjoyable if used correctly. Something to keep very close in mind is that technology will only really amplify what it is you do in your business. What does that mean? Well, if you have poor processes with confusing inputs, steps and outputs and you just throw technology at it, you’ll likely get more of your poor process and confusing outputs. However, if you have your processes down pat, you’re much more likely to get nice, efficient output. That’s great.
This doesn't need to be difficult. Check out our post on easily documenting business processes.
With the above in mind, it is important that we don’t just sign up to every flashy piece of cloud software that promises to fix all our woes. Something I often suggest is to talk over your business process with your IT person. Explore what you may already be paying for in your Office 365 subscription, for instance. Try a few things with what you have at hand already. If need be, you may then find that you have an opportunity to really benefit from introducing some new software, but you will understand the need better.
If you do decide that there is an opportunity for some new system to improve your business operations, that is the time to stop and think.
If you’ve been around IT people enough, you will have heard them talk about requirements a lot. This isn’t by chance. Put simply, think early about what you do and don’t need from the software and you will save much time, effort, cost and frustration in the future.
Why not list out your requirements into “must haves”, “important to haves”, and “nice to haves”. Then when you have a shortlist of possible
systems, test them against these. You might be surprised how easily you can then zero in on the right software for you.
Let’s pause for a second...you remember how we talked about getting your business processes right before selecting software? Well here’s one area where it can really pay off. Nearly all cloud software will allow you to sign up to a free trial. These are time-limited in many cases. So, having our business processes nice and clear means we can quickly test the software. Try some variations on the processes. Click all the buttons and look at all the reports.
Then have a think over your experience. Now...you will be well placed to jump into your new system and enjoy the ride.