How To Find The Right Software For Your Needs
You need a software, so you open Google and start typing: “Best Software for (whatever you are looking for)”, e.g. “best software for online courses” or “best software for websites”. And then you get millions of search results. You click the first 5 results hoping to find the best solution. But the more you research, the more frustrating it things become. Mainly because there seems to be no way to make all the different options comparable. So, how shall this work to find the right software that will fit your needs and your budget, without spending months of your time researching?
Best Practices For Sofware Selection
I worked with software solutions every day for more than the past 12 years. I have responded to purchasing requests that were looking for software solutions, I have implemented the solutions and trained users on correct usage. And what I can tell you is: There are best practices to find the right software for your needs. But not following the advice will waste time, money and people! People? Yes, people! Because the most frustrating thing for every person on this planet is to know it won’t work but still having to do it just to end up finding out that the project will be cancelled.
Let’s dive into some of the most impactful best practices to find the right software for your needs.
Start With Your Needs
Before you do any research, start writing down your needs. What do you want the software to do? Which process shall be automated? Which reports do you need? How do you and your team want to use the system? List the features into a table. Then look at each requirement and decide: Is this a “must have” or a “nice to have”?
What I heard in hundreds of projects is: “Everything is mandatory!” And to spit out the truth immediately and get this out of the way: No, that’s not true. There are always some requirements that are more important than others. If you had to pay $10,000 extra just to have this one feature, would it be worth it? Of course, you can replace the $10,000 with any other value that will cause a substantial impact on your budget. But the basic question really is: Would you be willing to pay for this feature? If not, then it is just a “nice to have”. If yes, you probably already suffer a lot to be willing to pay for a solution.
What you want to keep in mind when writing down your needs is your plans for the future. For example, if you are looking for a customer management system to maintain your existing database better, but you have plans to use your database to do more email marketing in the future, you want to make sure that the system you select is able to cover this need as well. The worst thing that can happen is that you select and implement a software just to realize that one year later you need to do the whole exercise again because the system does not serve you anymore.
Look For Targeted Solutions
Step 1: Research
Once you have your list of needs, you then start researching the available options. You can use the same table you already started and add columns for each solution. Check whether this solution has the required features and also list down any price criteria like subscriptions fees, service terms etc. The difference to just starting to search is that you know exactly what features you are looking for. Your research is extremely targeted.
This part here is the tricky one because there is not one overall table that lists all available solutions based on your exact needs. Therefore, you might not find all information at publicly available documents or support pages. You may have to contact the support directly, to get your answer. Some software solutions offer sales support so you can talk to an agent to get your questions answered.
A word of warning here: Having worked for more than 12 years in this space, I can promise you that most providers will always tell you that things work when you ask them in the sales phase. But when you start implementing it, you realize, it doesn’t work or only with a higher priced plan which they didn’t tell you. Question everything!
Step 2: Make use of test phases
If you have a chance to do a free of charge test phase, do it. Look for and test the most important features that you need. Look at usability. Is everything clear or do you constantly have to look up information because the navigation is not intuitive?
As part of this research you may also learn that your needs may require several software solutions. Each solution on the market is created from a very specific business scenario. Everything outside this scenario often requires a different system. For example, if you look for a contract management system that also does invoice creation and payment processing, you will have to look at least for 2 different systems – or alternatively you will already look for the really big players like the SAP and the Salesforces of the world, which, well, charge you quite substantial amounts.
This is the part where most of our clients ask for our support. Because this part right here can take you a lot of time just to collect the data. However, you need an overview of your options to make the best decision for your business.
Choose Your Solution
Finally, you want to decide on which software to move forward with. When you filled your table correctly, the first thing you look at is the requirement fit. Which software solutions cover all your “must have” requirements? If you have several candidates that cover your “must have” requirements, check how many of your “nice-to-have” criteria are fulfilled. Then, check the prices. Which software provides the best fit for your needs and has a price that fits your budget?
In terms of pricing be aware that you get what you pay for. If your budget is very limited, you may have to accept the fact that certain features will not be covered. One of the most common things that I have seen during my years is that businesses always want the fanciest things for no costs. Well, that does not exist.
You want people to pay a fair price for your services? Then you should do the same. Otherwise, you signal to everybody in the market: “I am a high-end service provider, but I don’t use high-end services myself, I go with the cheapest.” So, why should your clients move forward with you if this is your mindset? I am not saying that you shall overspend for no reason. Of course, you need to make a financially sound decision. But if you really want something amazing, be ready to pay for it.
To Sum It Up
If you follow this methodology, you will be able to find a software that fits your needs and that is within your budget. The most essential part are your requirements. If you don’t know what you want, all the research is a waste of time. Thus, start with what you need. And if you need help, getting this done, feel free to reach out. Good luck!
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