Software can do many amazing things for your business. Here are some of the most important benefits.
- software shows up for work every day
- software doesn’t make mistakes: it does what it is told every time and does it the same way every time
- software is cheaper than employees for doing mundane repetitive tasks. Do you really want to manage a bunch of extra people doing mundane things?
- software makes you more efficient.
I like this quote:
“Technology has gone from a key differentiator to a core strategy. Any company that isn’t figuring out how to use technology to revolutionize their business is doomed. If you are just looking to evolve, that will give you success in the short-term, but in the long term, those that do figure it out will have your dinner – and cake, too.” – The Globe and Mail
How do I know I need more or different software?
Are you maximizing the value of your existing software? How do you know?
Are you passing paper around to multiple people? Do you have people working outside your building? How are you keeping track of what they are doing or have done? How do they know what they are supposed to be doing?
If you are service business do you use time sheets? Are these on paper? Excel? How do these time sheets become invoices? Another indicator is you are keeping track of things in multiple spreadsheets or databases.
One example I worked on was a company that processed hundreds of invoices from one vendor every month. There was a manual process to collect the information confirm accuracy and allocate it to a profit centre. Then someone spent 3-4 days every month keying these into their accounting software for payment. I took this down to five minutes and one click to do the same thing. Do you have someone doing the something repetitive every month?
What software do I need?
Every business is at a different stage but at the core every business needs a financial system to collect all of your revenues and expenses so you know whether you are profitable and why or if you are not why not.
Next I suggest you look at software to help you be operationally efficient. I like to start by removing as much paper from your process as possible. If you can do that make sure whatever you choose talks to your financial software because you don’t want to trade one manual process for another.
If you provide services look at how you know what to bill for and how the invoices are created. There will be software to help you. If you sell product what is your process from receiving the order through delivering the product? Is there any duplication in the process? What is manual?
How do I know what software I need?
The first thing I suggest you do is decide what problem you are solving. Once you know that do some research. While researching keep in mind that some people think their product is like the magic spray they use in soccer because it solves every problem.
Once you have decided what problem you are solving you should also decide what success looks like. When your problem is solved what is the effect on your business? Document this.
Once you have decided what problem you are solving you should also decide what success looks like.
Next, look at what you have now and determine whether it can solve your problem. I recommend being careful here because many people don’t have a strong understanding of what they currently have can really do. Try finding someone who really knows your software and engage them to determine whether it can be your solution.
How do I buy Software?
It is easy to buy something that doesn’t fit. How to buy software will depend on what you want to buy. That is why it is important to know what problem you are solving and what success looks like. When you look at software look through those lenses. Does it solve your problem and does it fit your definition of success?
You will also need to decide what your budget is. What is the cost of doing nothing? If you achieve success what is the dollar value that success produces for you?
Finally, don’t forget your accountant. Partner with them because they should have seen many businesses similar to yours.
Once you have made a decision to purchase some software you are not finished. The software needs to work for you. Are you going to set it up yourself or have someone do it for you? Sometimes a perfectly good solution is discarded because it was never set up correctly.
Watch for other articles on this topic.