Choosing the right software can be the key to propelling your business forward, especially if your venture is small. But with so many options out on the market today, how can you know you’re making the best decision? The entire process of selecting a software can get overwhelming quickly, but it doesn’t have to be.
When you’re considering purchasing software, there are a few things you should not do. Knowing the mistakes that so many business owners succumb to can put you ahead of the process before you even begin. The end result? A software purchase that you’re confident in, and an all-around better experience for you and your team.
Why Buy Software?
Before we can get into the major “don’ts” of software purchasing, you’re probably wondering, “Why buy software in the first place?” Some small business owners see software as another unnecessary purchase, but it can truly be a valuable tool that will pay for itself tenfold.
Perhaps the main reason to buy software for your business is the scalability. Sure, while your business is starting out, you might be able to manage all your orders, inventory levels, and sales by manual methods. But as your business continues to grow, tracking everything on your own only gets harder, more stressful, and more time-consuming. Not to mention, manual tracking opens you up to human error, which can lead to some pretty expensive mistakes.
With software, though, you’ll have all of your processes taken care of for you, and all your information will be in one convenient place. You get to spend less time tracking everything manually and will always have up-to-date information at your fingertips. Plus, with all the time and money you save, you can invest those hours and dollars back into your business, helping you to grow even faster.
The Top 7 Mistakes to Avoid
- Not Planning Before You Pay
Before you can decide on a software purchase, you need to do some planning. Too many business owners fall for the trap of purchasing whatever software looks the fanciest or has the most features, but that’s not the most efficient way to make a purchasing decision. In fact, it can wind up being more trouble than it’s worth if you’re not careful.
Start by sitting down and analyzing your current strategies. Decide what’s already working and what could be improved upon. You’ll also want to consider what your goals are and how a potential software purchase can help you move in the right direction. Finally, decide on a budget you’re comfortable with. By outlining how software might be helpful and how you want it to work for you, you can automatically narrow down your options by a significant amount, making the overall process much less overwhelming.
- Purchasing Software You Don’t Really Need
After you finish planning, determine whether purchasing software is really worth it for your business. One big mistake that small business owners make is purchasing software before they actually should. Some consider it a “requirement” to be a “real” business owner. But consider the perspective that a software purchase may not make sense for your company at the moment.
As we discussed earlier, many businesses start out by manually tracking their processes, and software can certainly help reduce or eliminate that need. But is manual tracking becoming so much of an issue that purchasing software is a priority? Or are there other aspects of your business that you should be focusing on and investing in first? Be sure that software is truly where your focus and money should be going at this stage in your business.
- Opting for Extra Features You Won’t Use
Now that you’ve determined how software can help you and that it is, indeed, a necessity, slow yourself down a bit. It’s easy to get distracted by top-of-the-line software with all the bells and whistles, but that’s exactly what they’re designed to do: distract you. Determine what features you actually need in a software, and consider that some features won’t serve you right now.
You don’t want to overspend money on tools that you won’t actually use. If you’re not sure if or how you would use a particular feature, don’t be afraid to contact customer service or request a demo for more information. This can give you a better perspective on how the software and its features would actually work in a real situation for your business.
- Picking Software That Doesn’t Work With What You Have
You’re probably already using some kind of software for your business, so before you make another purchase, you want to ensure that your new potential software will work with your existing programs. If your different forms of software don’t work well together, it can create a whole new level of hassle.
Let’s say, for instance, that your customers download a template from your business on their computer. Then, they want to read that template from their phone later during the day. If your various forms of software don’t work together, this experience can become disjointed and frustrating both for the customer and for you. Make sure that your software can work together seamlessly.
- Not Considering the Future
Don’t let yourself get stuck thinking about what you need in the “now.” Your business is going to continue to grow, and with time, your business’s needs are going to change. You don’t want to continually purchase and adapt to new software, so it’s important that your potential software purchase can grow right along with your company.
This topic might lead you back to point #3, considering features you won’t use. There may be a feature within a certain software that you wouldn’t use in the moment but could see being useful in the future. Is there a way to “add on” this feature in a few months’ or years’ time? This type of question is certainly worth asking.
- Choosing a Suite Instead of Best-of-Breed Tools
At first glance, a single-vendor suite seems like an ideal solution for many small businesses. All of the programs come from one place, so you know they’ll work together. You can get used to one simple process and only have to turn to one company if you have any issues. However, best-of-breed tools can be much more effective in the long run.
The big problem with single-vendor suites is that they try to be “one size fits all” solutions. But your business is unique, and that should be celebrated! By selecting best-of-breed tools, you can more easily personalize your experience to get the exact capabilities and results you’re looking for. Additionally, single-vendor suites tend to offer modules that are simply average, while best-of-breed tools give you the best performance every single time.
- Making the Decision Alone
Even though you may be the one in charge of the purchasing decisions for your company, you’re not the only one who’s going to be using the software in question. Don’t assume you simply know what’s best for your team members; ask them! Including your employees in this decision-making process can be beneficial all around.
To start, you might have a whole different type of software in mind than what your team wants. You may think a social media management tool would be best, but your social media manager might tell you they’re doing just fine and they think a project management software would be a better decision. Additionally, including your team in the process will make them more willing to accept the change, rather than just thrusting a new software onto them unexpectedly.
How to Choose the Right Software
Now that you know what not to do, you’re better prepared to make a software purchasing decision that makes sense for you and your company. Start by analyzing your company and figure out whether you need software right now in the first place. Determine what you want your software to do, what goals you want to reach, and how much you can spend. Ask your team for their input as well to start narrowing down your choices.
Begin researching software platforms and determine which ones work with your existing programs. Consider the available features and whether or not you actually need them, as well as if features can be added on in the future. With all of this in mind, you can be well on your way to investing in a high-quality software that can pay for itself in no time.
DEAR Systems Can Help
When you’re considering purchasing software for a small business, DEAR Systems can help. We’ve worked with thousands of clients from across the world to help them reach their business’s goals. Some of our most popular features include purchasing, inventory management, B2B portal, sales, POS, manufacturing, and more. We’ve helped companies of all sizes and within countless industries to find the exact blend of software that works for them. Contact us today to learn more and to start your 14-day free trial!