Software is expected to make your business management easier, but often it is just a source of expense and frustration.
The right program helps you analyze sales, manage cash flow and improve efficiency whereas the wrong program causes the mess in financial records and can cost you money and productivity to recover from.
A game plan for selecting a perfect software working safely for your business is very important. To choose the one that fits your business best among hundreds of available products with myriads of technologies and configurations, consider the following factors.
- Big picture
First, decide on the reasons of purchasing new software. Try to make a list of challenges you want this software to address, then divide it in two columns – needs and wants. The “needs” column should be brief and include only the features indispensable for its operation in terms of your company purposes. “Wants” can be broader, the features in this column should be written in order of their importance and cover all the capabilities which you think will make your business life easier. This procedure will define the core functionality of the software.
Next, you should calculate how much your company can afford to invest including any hardware required as well as its implementation and support for the first year. Your recurring costs are as important to predict as the software cost itself. Think if you will need people to set up your new hardware, if you will need extensive customization instead of utilizing general accounting applications etc. Customization and database consulting, for instance, are charged based on the consultant’s experience and your platform, so with going down your “wants” list means more expensive software implementation.
- Internal users
Your best helpers in making decisions are often the people who are going to use the new software. That’s why it will be of use to ask your company’s order entry specialist of your current system’s limitations and clarify if invoicing takes much time and causes decreased productivity, which other features your internal users would like to have and how they would increase profitability and save time. After this you’ll detect all your current package inefficiencies as well as identify the features you need to have in potential packages. This also provides an added benefit of internal buy-in speedup while starting to implement the new software. The package which improves their workflow is likely to be received by employees better.
- Implementation service provider
Service providers can be found through other business owners or friends’ referrals, especially if the package of your choice is written in Microsoft Access or some other widely-supported database. Often requesting your software vendor’s referrals is also a good idea. Meeting a consultant already familiar with your selected product saves you money and reduces time need to get it up and running in many cases. It’s crucial to work with a person you easily communicate with in order to set budget and expectations so that your costs don’t get uncontrolled from the beginning.
You need to carefully plan your implementation to avoid the peak busy times as well as enable system redundancy to make sure no data will be lost in the transition period. Despite many businesses are forced to change their accounting systems when the fiscal year starts, this often suggests your new system’s implementation when a fiscal year ends and most businesses get focused on business performance and sales. Most accounting systems allow you to start the implementation any time without data loss or additional work. It’s no use rushing to do everything at the year end, better schedule it for some less stressful time to let the implementation service provider ensure seamless transition between your old and new systems.
Well, you are ready to be heading for success with your carefully selected business software now!