How to Choose the Right Software Purchase for Your Business

It can be hard to choose the right software for your business

As a business owner, it can be surprisingly difficult to choose the right software for your business, especially if you aren’t comfortable with the tech side of things in the first place. However, making the right choice is important. You can’t afford to waste time or money on the wrong software. The points below will help you narrow down your choices.

Define Your Why

What do you need to do? You may have an answer to this question yourself, but put it in front of the people that the purchase is supposed to help as well. As an employee, few things are as frustrating as a change intended to help you do your job that you weren’t even consulted on. You might be trying to make your fleet more efficient, and your fleet manager might suggest that a big help would be using digital fuel solutions to increase efficiency. Listening to the hard-won expertise of the people in the relevant departments is critical. From the feedback that you get, make a list of everything that you need in a software package. There are a few different things you’ll need to consider besides function, including ease of use, tech requirements, scalability and cost. Once you have listed them, consider how you would prioritize them.

Make a Longlist

With the information you already have, it’s time to assemble a longlist of potential software solutions. Try to be specific, creating growth and efficiency is a great goal but you need to determine how you hope to achieve that to be able to determine what solutions can help you do so. You can review their features yourself to help you determine if they’re right for you. In addition, online reviews, comparison sites, talking to other business owners and cost will all be factors.

Create a Shortlist

From the longlist, create something shorter. Some will be easy to eliminate completely. They might be incompatible with the system you already have or might leave you way over budget. Others might give you more problems, and in fact, you might actually end up with a too long list once you’ve made the first pass. If that happens, review your desired features once more with an eye to how important each one is. Throughout this process, be sure that you also make a note of why each potential solution is being rejected because if your budget, your system or other requirements change in the future, you may want to consider switching.

Trial Run

You may be getting impatient with the process at this point, but it’s important to stay focused in order to make the best choice, especially since this can be the most challenging part of the process. This is where you need to trial the shortlist in order to determine what’s really right for your company. There are a few criteria you need to examine. First, you should consider whether the software does in fact do what it says and what you need it to do. Obviously, you’ll eliminate anything that does not, but this is only the beginning.

Look at the learning curve. How difficult will it be to train your employees on it? You may want to involve them in this part of the decision-making process. How efficient is the system? Will your staff end up having to take a lot of time to complete certain tasks? Will they need to go back over work more than once? What about the general user experience? If there are certain tasks that are only performed occasionally, how hard is it to remember how to do them? In general, is the system intuitive? How do your employees feel about working with it? Finally, look at how the system handles errors. Does it catch them? Whether it does or not, are they easy to correct? You may want to take a lot of notes during this process since it can be difficult to remember specific points about each type of software if you are trialing several different prospects.

Make Your Choice

Before you make your final choice, be sure to liaise with your IT team. They can let you know about any difficulties in installation, security, or other issues that may arise. You also need a way to evaluate the success of the new software. Create a rubric that will help you look at how it’s working after a few months and how it has benefited your company. There can be mistakes in even the best considered plan, so consider as well what you will do if the choice turns out to be less than ideal over the medium or longer term.

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Craig Zedwick
I'm a chemical engineer and operations leader, but in my spare time I love technology, building computers, and DIY projects. I like to dive deep into researching new topics, so my articles tend to focus on that same level of detail to help others like me to learn as much as they can.