The global software market in the small and medium businesses segment is estimated at US $50 Billion per year, and the enterprise software market is estimated to be above US $200 Billion per year, according to a report produced by Google & Accel Partners. These numbers clearly indicate that the software tools market is huge business today. Though software tools are aimed to make life less painful, a tool wrongly selected, or is not future proof, often lands a business in a messier situation, despite the enormous spend.
So, before embarking on a business software buying spree, it helps to ask a few fundamental questions to set the right strategy: Why do we need the software? What are we trying to achieve with it? How will it improve our employee productivity? How will it reduce our workflow processes?
If there aren’t enough clear answers to the above questions, it is wise to skip the purchase, and seek the help of specialists.
Assessing Your Business Needs
Talking to existing clients is a great first step in the journey of purchasing or upgrading software. Asking people in your existing network about what they think about particular software options will help you assess its worth before shelling out the money. There should be convincing reasons such as reduction in man-hours or a marked increase in efficiencies before purchasing a particular software. Understanding how long it would ideally take to adapt and how long did it take before realizing the benefits should drive the decision making.
Often, the best thing is to simply involve a vendor agnostic system integration consultant. Discussing in-depth about what one’s business does and what the leadership is trying to achieve by buying a particular tool will help you arrive at a solid decision. An integration consultant, with a wide exposure to the industry and hands-on experience will help perform a careful analysis to arrive at a recommendation of what tools that best suits an organization.
Just Push Play?
Challenging the status-quo will help push one’s knowledge boundaries and be aware of all the features a product brings. Many times, a lot of interesting and enriching features might be hidden, and do not translate to value despite implementation. On the other hand, many a time, a lot of needless features might only add to the clutter, and may add to the confusion of the end user. It always helps to reduce the clutter and have just what it takes to achieve one’s targets.
Sometimes, custom built applications may turn out to be less expensive and the right fit for a business. One may never know without a detailed analysis provided by an expert. The regular ways of procuring software have all changed. These days, the industry sees a lot of a bottom-up approach. No one wants to buy without a test drive.
Try it. Buy it.
It is a great proposition and a fail-safe strategy to opt for a 30-day free trial, or use the Freemium version before purchasing any software. This is the age of subscription. Many companies, especially the small and medium enterprises, choose to go for a pay-per-use model, where software is offered as a service (S-a-a-S). It is crucial to use it and get a hang of it before purchasing. All involved teams should therefore get a hands-on experience of the product. It is wise to let the users decide. A few extra bucks while finalizing should not bother as long as the product ticks all the right boxes, and is favored by the team.
What Do the Employees Think?
Slack, Dropbox, Trello are great examples of continuous and effective feedback that starts with the end user. First, various teams in an organization are introduced to these tools by their peers. Once a sizable number of employees adopt, and there is consensus, the CIO then negotiates an organization level agreement to deploy it across the company. This approach is radically different from the usual board-room decisions that fuel software purchase, and since the recommendations are generated from the users themselves, there are almost no chances that the purchase would go awry.
Knowing Which Software Vendor to Choose
Decision makers should do thorough research online by going through what people have to say about the business on review sites. Getting peer reviews also help. While an older software player in the market will also be able to provide better after-sales support, a new vendor might offer more innovations bundled with the offer. Making a choice after a careful weighing of the vendor’s credentials and hearing from peers is a great way to go about a software purchase.
The Migration Plan
As an organization grows, it may want to migrate to a bigger tool to consolidate functions, have access to more features, and also expect better returns on investment. On many occasions, the real nightmare begins when a team attempts to pull all data out completely, resulting in crashes and losses. Finally, many compliance requirements mandate data to be maintained for a few years. Companies should therefore choose the tool that best complies to the norms, while enabling easy and effortless export of data.