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How to Future-Proof Your Business Software
There are no two ways about it – the importance of technology within every business will continue to grow. Soon, all companies will offer a product or service reliant on business software. Depending on your business and its needs, investing in software can be a costly and time-draining experience – when done correctly, this process sees organizations setting themselves up for continuity, growth, and meticulous processes. However, too many business leaders and managers merely look at the short-term vision without considering if the software they choose best serves them in the future and the present.
Let’s take a look at ways you can future-proof your business software, ensuring your investment is worthwhile and business benefits in the long run.
Predict The Future Of Your Business
Firstly, it’s imperative you have a vision for the future of your business. Alternatively, if you aren't in a C Level position, you need to speak to someone that knows the direction and plans of the company. With no understanding of where the business is headed, you can’t make decisions that will benefit the company in the long run.
Once you are privy to this information, the real work of choosing business software can begin. Now you are able to make an informed assessment as to whether the packages you’re looking at are going to be suitable for the business in 5-10 years. Yes, you can’t say with 100% certainty that they will, but if you can prove that the business software you have chosen has all the features and functionality you need right now, it will also fulfill the needs of the company should it hit its growth targets, then you’re on to a winner.
Why is it important to consider so far in the future? If the software you’re evaluating is integral to business operations, it can be incredibly difficult to switch to another system later down the line. All employees will be familiar with how the package works, they’ll be thoroughly trained, and importantly, you’ll have spent a lot of money.
Choose Reputable Providers & Developers
Do thorough background research on software providers and developers. There’s nothing worse than investing hefty amounts in creating the perfect system, only for the company that built it to go out of business. In that scenario, you’re left with an incredibly sophisticated system that will never be supported or upgraded, leaving you to find workarounds for bugs, or worse, with a system that doesn’t work at all.
Things to look out for are how long they have been operating, what projects they have completed previously, which businesses in your industry have they worked with, do they provide ongoing upgrades and support, and will they provide you with reference companies for you to speak with directly.
It can be challenging to assess the potential future of a company that isn’t your own, but you must try because choosing the right provider will make or break the success of your project.
Bespoke VS Off The Shelf
A big dilemma and discussion amongst many decision-makers are whether to go for a fully bespoke system or opt for an off-the-shelf pre-packaged program. There is no correct answer here – it’s completely dependent on what suits your business best. However, points 1 and 2 will be vital in your decision-making here.
Both bespoke and off-the-shelf come with pros and cons. For example, a bespoke system can be built exactly as you need it, completely unique to your business, working around your existing processes perfectly. However, they can be costly and time-consuming projects, and if you choose the wrong provider, you may never end up with the system you envisaged, and only a handful of people will ever be able to provide you with support. On the other hand, off-the-shelf systems provide less customizability but they do offer the guarantee of regular updates, bug fixes, access to customer support, and are relatively low cost.
Trial The Software
If you can get your hands on either a free or paid trial of the software, do it. Test it out with a core group of employees, people who will give open and honest feedback, and you’ll be able to envisage how it will fit into your business. A month or two of trailing can save you a lot of time, effort, and money wasted on a package that doesn’t deliver on its promises.
If the software doesn’t fit your needs now, it’s unlikely it will in the future. However, if you think it seems too feature-rich and too elaborate for what you need, refer back to point 1. Yes, it may well be too much now but will these in-depth functionalities serve your business better in the future?
In an age where there is an abundance of choices in the business software market, choosing the right one can be incredibly difficult. Ultimately, it comes down to knowing the direction you want your business to take, researching the market for providers, and testing out the services they offer. If you follow those steps, you’ll end up with a system that brings benefits to your business for years to come. Remember, the software you choose should fit your business, not the other way around.
If you’d like a helping hand, our San Diego software development agency is on hand to guide you and answer any questions you might have. Alternatively, if you’re a marketing professional and would like to discuss the systems you use or how software adoption can improve your business, head over to our San Diego digital agency.