Stop Your Software Selection Struggles: 3 Steps for Choosing the Right Business Technology
May 24, 2018
Today’s software solutions serve as strategic tools enabling your business to achieve key financial, operational, and competitive objectives. The breadth and depth of solutions now available in the market is astounding – and while some will add efficiency and value to your business, others will prove expensive and time-consuming to set up, manage, and integrate into your day-to-day.
With mounting pressures for executives to realize ROI on technology investments, how do you select the most appropriate software for your business? After all, effective software selection is the difference between using technology successfully to advance your business, or being bogged down by outdated, under-performing solutions. And, the struggle remains to get your selection right the first time, with 47% of mid-market executives declaring that planning for new technology is their greatest technology challenge according to a recent OnResearch survey.
But, here’s the good news − while selecting the right products and services can be challenging, it’s not impossible. In this post, our Technology Advisory team outlines key focus areas to consider when developing a software selection strategy that will empower your business, rather than drag it down.
Recognizing When to Select New Software
The first step in an effective software selection strategy is to determine when it’s time to start looking for new software. If your current software is meeting all of your needs, great! But, if you’re experiencing any of the following difficulties, it’s likely time for a change:
- Onboarding employees: Outdated software can make it challenging to hire new employees. Why? Because the software is so complex or poorly documented that using it requires a great deal of institutional knowledge. Imparting this knowledge on new employees can be costly and time-consuming.
- Managing change: Your business is not a static entity. When you make a major change – such as opening a new line of business or adding a new location – you should consider updating your software as well in order to meet your new needs.
- Achieving on-demand accessibility: Legacy software was not designed for today’s 24/7, always-on environment. As a result, employees may not be able to work remotely, or get data on the go from a mobile device. This can deprive your business of important efficiencies.
- Lacking integration: Your business should be integrated. Teams should be able to collaborate and share resources seamlessly. They can’t do that if the data you store on some systems is siloed, incompatible with other systems, or has to be translated manually in order to be moved.
- Recurring downtime: If you’re experiencing routine downtime, your software is probably the culprit. Today’s customers expect constant availability of your services. And even if you only have internal-facing applications, downtime can create crippling disruptions for your business. Many older software platforms were not designed to deliver constant uptime.
The issues described above are tricky, and they tend to manifest slowly, making them easy to overlook how pervasive they are in reality. They are like a clogged pipe whose flow slows down gradually. Each time you turn on the tap, the problem is a little worse, but always feels normal because you don’t remember how it originally performed. This is why you should periodically step back and evaluate how well the software you have in place is working for your business, and then determine whether it’s time to select new software.
Capitalizing on Market Trends
Once you’ve decided to adopt new software, you should evaluate prevailing trends in the software market in order to build the right software selection strategy. Today’s software market trends include:
- Migration from on-premise to the cloud: More and more workloads are being moved to the cloud. The cloud can significantly reduce the time and money that businesses have to spend setting up, managing, and backing-up software, as well as the hardware that hosts it.
- APIs for easier data integration: Most modern software platforms, especially those that run in the cloud, typically come with a robust set of APIs. APIs allow different software packages to communicate with one another. APIs make it much less complex to build integrations and share data between different software platforms. They can also enable automated data integration and process flow across disparate systems. The result? Dramatic improvements in business efficiency.
- Simplified configuration: In older software systems, heavy customization was required to make software match business process flow. While this created software that was very tightly connected to business processes, it typically made upgrades very costly and risky because customizations needed to be tested and rewritten each time an upgrade occurred. Today, configurations can be automated or handled by software vendors rather than users. This newer approach allows businesses to mirror processes and workflows in software without the complexity of customization.
Getting Outside Help for Software Selection
While an internal project team can lead the software selection process, bringing in outside advice and a fresh perspective can be crucial to help ensure that you make the right decision.
Outside assistance from a third party allows you to evaluate your current software and determine – in an objective way – whether it is sufficient for your current needs, or whether you can truly benefit from selecting new software. A third party can also take the lead in the software selection process, and in mapping your business processes and goals to identify which software platforms can meet your needs.
At the same time, a third party can make sure that your internal project team sticks to deadlines, while also assisting with software contract negotiations. This can greatly minimize the amount of time that your own employees have to invest in the complex process of software selection. In turn, your employees’ time will be used more efficiently, and the business will avoid the risk of having important operations disrupted because employees are distracted by software selection work.
Software Selection: The Right Time, Information, and Plan Can Pay Dividends
Software selection requires a significant investment of time and money. It is not a process that should be taken lightly. However, when done at the right time, armed with the right information, and with the right plan, new software selection can pay tremendous dividends for your company. The right software will help to ensure that your business is equipped with the tools needed to operate efficiently, stay ahead of competitors, and take advantage of the latest innovations that achieve key objectives.
Contact SC&H Group’s Technology Advisory Services team to learn more about choosing the right software for your business that enables progress, generates value, and supports growth.