This guide will help you to choose the right software for your business.
Choosing the right software is never easy. There are a lot of vendors, and a lot of options. In small businesses, the choice often comes down to price. But in larger enterprises moving to a new system requires deep commitment. If this is you, you will be thinking about the time cost of changeover, setup, training, and deployment.
Sunk costs, including time, make it harder to make changes, even when it's necessary.
Using the seven steps below, you will benefit from decision-making clarity. Choosing the right software is a deep commitment, so make sure you have everything covered.
1. Know what you want the software to do
You must know what you want the system to do. Consider the software capabilities in terms of what it must be able to do. Then, consider what is a nice-to-have instead.
Decide at this stage what you are not willing to change about your business. This will affect whether you can live with an out-of-the-box system, or whether you need something custom built. If you have definite processes that you can't (or will not) change, you must look at custom solutions. Knowing this will help you refine your options.
Make sure it delivers higher efficiency
As you look through your options, ask yourself whether each one reduces the amount of administration resources that your processes require. If not, exclude the option. This is a simple way to measure how much more efficient the system will make you.
Your action: At this stage, eliminate anything that doesn't fit, then prioritise systems in terms of their capabilities.
2. Know your budget
It sounds simple, but simplicity can be deceiving. Understand what you want to spend, what you can spend, and what you absolutely will not spend. With three budget levels, you will be better able to prioritise your options.
When looking at your shortlist, then start digging for hidden fees. Some systems can only expand if you pay more for the additional elements. Make sure that you know what is the core fee, and what is extra.
Your action: Sort the options into your three budget categories. This will immediately tell you which systems you can't consider. Remove those ones from your list.
3. Can it grow with you? Know if (and how) it can scale
A great system will be able to grow and adapt with you. Consider what might happen if your business grows as a result of using the software, as Allstate Pest Control's business did. Can the system grow with you, as it is? Would you need other modules or parts? Will it cost extra to get them?
Your action: Make some notes about where you can start, and how you might need it to grow. This will allow you to ask the right questions when you start talking to vendors.
4. Know how the set up works: Who will do it, how is it done, how much
Some software vendors will set up your system for you. Others will train you, but won't set it up. Great vendors will set it up, transfer your data, and get you started.
It's better to find out about the set up and data transfer before you buy. Finding out afterwards that you're set up but without your information is disappointing. It gives you a brand-new but unused system, because nobody has the time or expertise to complete the set up.
Your action: Go to your short-listed vendors, and ask the following questions:
- Do they set up the system?
- Will they transfer data from your existing systems as part of the set up?
- How much does it cost for this set up process to take place?
If the answer to any of these is "you do it yourself" or it pushes the investment over your budget, remove the vendor from your shortlist.
5. Evaluate the people, not just the product
When things go wrong (as they inevitably do), make sure that the team is one that you will want to deal with. If you dread talking to them, that's a bad sign.
Think about the response times you expect, what kind of support you might need, and whether or not the team is patient with you. If they have a sales team that pressures you to buy and you feel uncomfortable about that, consider what that dynamic means for you.
Your action: Decide ahead of time how you will evaluate the people behind the product. Can you talk with them? Is it an easy relationship? Do you feel like you'll get the support you need, when you need it? Rank your competing options with this in mind.
6. Get your team to try the system
This is very important when you are looking at field team management software. If you make a decision by yourself, and the team doesn't like it or won't use it, then you may have made a terrible decision. Make sure that you get your team's feedback, and take it seriously.
If the interface requires too many clicks or taps, or it doesn't work on their preferred devices, they just won't use it. If they can use it, but dislike it, then they will use it - but they will complain!
Your action: Schedule time with your team to make sure they evaluate the system. Get real feedback, including all the ugly stuff you might not want to hear. That will help you to understand what is really going to work in your environment.
7. Find out who owns your data
Finally, the big, bad question. If you split up with your software vendor in future, who gets custody of your data? Find out before the marriage, not afterwards.
It can be a rude shock to discover that you have an unscrupulous vendor who won't give you back your data. Or, that they will give it to you but in a format that you can't use. Data is the lifeblood of your business, so make sure that you take all the necessary steps to protect it.
Download the PDF of this checklist
Download and print off the PDF of this checklist, so that you have a ready reference as you research potential vendors.
Could myFLO be the right vendor for you?
At myFLO we have a long history of working with companies large and small to solve their software gaps. A complete, end-to-end system, myFLO can introduce efficiencies that you didn't think were possible. Read through some of our case studies to learn how it has helped business to grow.