It’s easy to be diverted by the latest shiny, new system that appears to solve lots of your problems. But, before you jump in and invest, it’s wise to engage in some navel gazing first.
There are so many factors that impact on how effective software is – in your particular situation. Exploring what you already have, what you’d like to have and how your people will work with any new systems are important.
Here are our five questions to help you carry out a thorough thought process.
What’s worked, what hasn’t?
OK – that’s two questions really, but they’re two sides of the same coin. While systems and software are improving all the time, it’s worth looking back at the things that have worked really well – from all perspectives:
- Integration with other systems
- Staff assimilation
- Cost saving
Going through this process will inevitably throw up the things that didn’t work too. It’s important to understand WHY they didn’t work, too.
What systems have let you down
What systems has your business embraced only to find that, they either didn’t do the job as well as expected or had limitations you hadn’t thought about? What’s been a big disappointment – and what was the impact on your business as a result?
This will identify issues that you can consciously factor into your future investments.
What is on your wish list?
If money was no object what processes would you like to have automated – or have the ability to automate in the future? What could be done better and faster with software and free your people to do the things that require a human being (specifically delivering amazing customer service). What would it be good to have – and why?
How could things have gone better?
If you’ve bought into a system or new software packages in the past, you have experience to draw on. What were the stumbling blocks, the frustrations, the unexpected happenings or outcomes that you would have preferred to either factor out or know about ahead of time? The more knowledge you have, the better your decision making will be next time.
What do your employees want?
It’s always worth asking the people at the sharp end what they’d like to improve. The people doing the job are the best qualified to advise on what needs to change. They may be able to identify processes that are outdated, laborious and maybe even unnecessary.
Off-the-shelf or bespoke software
If you match any off-the-shelf software to the list of information you’ve now gathered, you’ll almost always find there are places it falls short. This means work-arounds or compromises. Short-term that may not be a problem, longer-term it can cause all kinds of trouble.
Is it expensive to have software created for your business? That depends on the cost of a system that doesn’t do everything you want it to and the cost of training your staff to use it properly. Not to mention the cost of people having work-arounds that aren’t available across the business.
With off-the-shelf software your team will need to understand the technology and terms and they’ll work for the system. With bespoke software you get EXACTLY what you need and it’s tailored to work with YOU.