About 31% of a small business’s tech budget goes to software. Another 22% goes to cloud solutions.
For businesses of all shapes and sizes, it’s important to get the right business software in place. Whether you invest in CRM suites, marketing tools, or HR software, you don’t want to waste time and money on the wrong tools.
It can cost you dearly in migration and training time. Your employees are less efficient, too. What does it take to buy business software that works for you?
Read on to learn the top tips to buy software for business.
1. What Do You Need?
At the end of the day, business software is just a tool to help you do things better, faster, or more efficiently.
What do you expect business software to do for you?
Go through your company with someone from your IT staff. Conduct an audit of where your current software or the lack of software prevents employees from doing their jobs.
You’ll end up with a list of needs for your business. Depending on what you find, you could need a full suite of tools or just a few tools for certain departments.
Since you’re making the investment in the software, you should be able to measure what it does for your business. Set tangible benchmarks to measure before and after the software installation. You should also make sure that the software you’ll be investing in would fit your industry perfectly. For example, if you’re running a fitness studio, you should opt for a fitness club management system.
2. Software Pricing vs. Your Budget
You should have a budget in mind for the software tools that you need.
Software tools have different pricing structures, so keep that in mind as you’re setting your budget. Some providers have a flat one-time fee to buy the software and install it on one device.
Since most businesses are investing in cloud-based services, the pricing model is a little different. You pay a monthly or annual subscription. You’d then pay according to the number of users or devices you have.
This can add up if you have employees that use 2-3 devices to do their work.
With some software tools, you need to look beyond the expense and look at the return on investment. For instance, government CRM software can help your sales to generate more revenue.
The right tool can increase their closing rate because the tool helped them follow up with leads.
Businesses invest in software because departments tend to work in silos. Software fosters communication between departments because tools can integrate with existing systems.
Your CRM should integrate with your marketing tools so sales can contact the warmest leads. Employee assistance program software should be able to integrate with your accounting solution.
This should be one of your top concerns when signing up for a cloud solution. The reason why is that you don’t control the servers or infrastructure on the other end. The software provider does.
Do your research to see if they had any recent hacks or security-related issues. Remember that your customers will blame you for a security breach, even if it was because of a third-party provider.
5. Ability to Scale
When you’re choosing business software, you have to keep the present and future in mind. You don’t want to buy business software that you outgrow in a short period of time.
Envision where you want your business to be. Then find out if the software fits with your future plans.
6. Customer Support
Is there a huge learning curve to figure out? You and your employees shouldn’t have to watch YouTube videos put together by other users to learn how to use the suite.
The business software provider has to have some kind of onboarding and training program.
Since you’re dealing with software, there’s a very good chance that you’ll have an issue with it down the road. Check to see what kind of support you have.
The more ways you can contact customer support, the better. They should also be very responsive.
7. Try Before You Buy
Many business software providers offer a way to test the software before you buy it. You can sign up for a free trial for a specified amount of time. This ranges from a week to 30 days.
A trial can be tricky if you don’t take the time to really try the software out. You don’t want to spend the entire trial migrating data from your old system into your new system.
Have a small set of data to migrate to the trial software so you can see the software in action. Test the usability and analytics of the tool.
For more complicated business software suites, companies offer a demonstration of the software. This ensures that you see all of the features.
To make the whole process easier, create a tracking spreadsheet to compare and contrast the different business tools. Have a column that covers each of these items and the pros and cons of the tool.
8. Online Reviews
There are a ton of resources out there that review business software providers. These resources make choosing business software a lot easier.
Do an online search for software reviews. Read through them carefully because you’ll notice different patterns.
For instance, you can come across several reviews of a software provider that has horrible customer service. That should make you think twice about going with that tool.
You’ll find honest reviews from people that talk about the likes and dislikes in a genuine way. These are the reviews to pay attention to.
Learning to Buy Business Software
In your quest to buy business software, you discovered that there’s a software tool for every aspect of running your business.
It doesn’t have to be time-consuming to research, try, and buy business software. Just follow the tips outlined here and create a comparison spreadsheet.
You’ll make a decision quickly and know that you’re getting the best tool for the job.
Check out the blog for more business and technology tips!