Business management software is a vital enabler for growing businesses, as it provides fast and seamless information flows, deep business insights, operational structure, and many other benefits across the functions that drive revenue and profits. Due to the mission-critical nature of the software, any company should plan carefully before pulling the trigger on this important investment.
Here are 5 things to consider before investing in business management software.
Don’t Waste Time
While cost is an important factor in your investment decision, time is the most important when it comes to affecting your growing business. You can't waste time getting your people up to speed on the new ways of working with the system. As such, identify the needs of each department and estimate the time commitment you'll need from everyone involved; by “involved,” we mean the employees who will be most affected by the new functionality as well as those who will help implement and test its usability.
Keep Communication Open
Small and mid-sized businesses communicate faster and better than larger competitors. Take advantage of your high-level ability to communicate with your teams and explain the importance of a business management software investment. People support major initiatives when they feel 'in the know' regarding what will happen, why, and how it will improve their individual job and the company.
To achieve maximum buy-in for the potential investment, provide a question-and-answer opportunity for employees. Not only will they appreciate the transparency, they may also bring to light new ideas and questions you should use in the product/vendor evaluation process.
The only way to know if an investment makes sense is by measuring its expected return. It's not enough to say that the system will make people faster and more efficient. Instead, establish operational and performance goals to measure speed and efficiency over time.
This may include goals such as:
- Reduce monthly stock-outs by 50% after one year
- Cut month-end financial close time from 3 days to 1 day by the third month of use
- Increase monthly revenue from cross-selling opportunities by 25% after six months
When you establish goals, you gain a better understanding of your investment drivers. Moreover, communicating the goals to employees demonstrates how the system directly benefits them, resulting in more support for the change when you make a final decision.
Account for Resources
Which of your company’s resources will be involved in bringing in a new system, implementing it, testing it, and ensuring usability/uptake? Underestimating the number of resources ─ and the time each must commit to the system ─ could hurt returns. Fortunately, if you've documented your goals and department-specific needs for the system, you should find it easy to identify the key people you need as resources and the effort required of them.
One additional tip: we've found that each department should have its own ‘go to’ person others can consult with usability questions. This dramatically increases system uptake and user satisfaction, so invest some time in having your vendor’s software experts or your own internal experts train your ‘go to’ people.
Consider the Costs
By now, you recognize that cost (in dollar terms) isn't the only driving force behind your investment decision. By understanding the goals you've set for the system and the resources necessary to achieve them, you gain insights regarding the cost you can justify to obtain the right system for your business.
Costs to consider may include:
- software purchase price
- licensing fees/monthly subscription fees (if it's an SaaS solution)
- maintenance fees
- consulting fees
- third-party vendor fees
- post-implementation support fees
You may find that a higher-priced system with broad integration capabilities costs less in the long run when you factor in each department’s core needs.
At Southeast Computer Solutions, we know that investing in business management software will be a game-changer for your business. If you're struggling with your investment decision, contact us today – we can help.