There is no lack of options when it comes to software and cloud applications. Tools are evolving so fast, that your technology infrastructure can become stale and outdated quickly, if you’re not keeping up.
Some of the most helpful business solutions for productivity are those that come in a package and have multiple tools in one platform. This improves efficiency, lowers the employee learning curve, and ensures an integrated solution with data sharing capabilities.
Small businesses that stay on top of technology and use it to the fullest are considered “digitally advanced.”
Digitally advanced small businesses have been found to have the following advantages over those that aren’t:
- Earn 2x more revenue per employee
- Are 3x more likely to be job creators
- See year-over-year revenue growth nearly 4X as high
One thing that holds companies back from evolving their business software is not knowing where to start.
The process can be intimidating when you think about changing all your work processes and utilizing a new software package. But the benefits can lead to lower costs, higher productivity, and better ability to take care of your customers.
We find that breaking down the process into simple steps helps it become more comprehensive and easier to accomplish successfully.
Steps for Evaluating & Choosing Business Software
As you go through the steps below, remember that delegating the various tasks to trusted team members is important. Delegating not only takes some of the burden off the main person doing the software search, it can also give you more perspective into a critical business decision.
Step 1: Identify Your Needs & Survey Employees
Rather than beginning a search by listing out all the tools you currently use, list out what your business needs out of a software package.
Approaching your software evaluation this way can help you identify needs that current solutions might not be covering.
It’s important to get intel from those that are actually using these applications day in and day out throughout your organization. So, put together a software needs survey for employees asking questions such as:
- What digital tools are you missing for handling your daily tasks?
- What stuck points do you see in your workflow or our ability to help customers?
- Which business software you currently use do you rely on most and why?
- Which business software would you replace and why?
From these surveys, map out your list of needs for a software package. It’s also smart to add tags like “must have” and “wish list” so you can separate the most needed features from those that aren’t as high of a priority.
This is going to help when you’re trying to choose software contenders to match your budget.
Step 2. Identify a Budget and Timeline
It will be a waste of time for your team to evaluate software packages that are way outside your budget, so you want to identify how much you’d like to spend per user/per month for the complete package with all the capabilities that you need.
While deciding your budget, map out a timeline for the search and transition which will help you stay on task and budget for the change.
Step 3: Choose a List of Software Package Contenders
Once you’ve laid out your needs and budget, you’ll want to choose several software package contenders that can meet those parameters.
For the first evaluation, which will be an “on paper” evaluation, you’ll want to have a good number to choose from, so cast a wide net that includes some that might not be as well-known but show promise.
You may want to choose up to 10 or 12 contenders for the first-round evaluation.
Step 4. First Evaluation Round: On Paper
Going through trials of every single software available is not a good use of time. Your first evaluation is designed to efficiently weed out most of the contenders.
Have your chosen team members review product information and online user reviews about the platforms you’ve chosen and hone down your list to those you actually want to trial. A good number would be 3-4.
Step 5: Second Evaluation Round: Trials
The trial evaluation can be a little time-consuming, but it’s vital to ensuring the software package is going to be something that boosts productivity and not one that your employees continually have problems with.
Give your employees evaluations to fill out about their trial experience with each software platform and use these for your final decision.
Once the winning contender has been chosen, it’s a good idea to have a team meeting to discuss the survey findings and get any last-minute input. This not only ensures a thorough evaluation, it also invites your team have ownership of the process, which will help when it comes time to adopt the new software.
Step 6: Plan Your Implementation
Changing to a new software package includes multiple considerations. When you plan your implementation, you want to think about:
- Data migration
- Employee training
- Doing an effective phase out/phase in
- Ensuring the old platforms is decommissioned securely
- Customizing your new platform for your needs
Enjoy a Smooth Software Migration by Working with Unbound Digital
Going through a software search and migration can be much less daunting when you have a trusted friend by your side. Unbound Digital can help you through every step of the process!
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Call 423-335-2461 or reach us online.