Running a small business requires a high degree of organization. More small business owners are turning to enterprise software as a way to help them stay on track. Enterprise software helps businesses organize clients or customers, keep track of spending and profits, manage and collaborate on projects, and much more. Purchasing it requires a fine eye for detail, so be sure to think about these factors before signing on the dotted line.
Identify Your Business Goals
Before you make a large purchase, it is important to know exactly why you need it. Start by making a list of short-term and long-term goals for your company. Focus on clearly measurable goals. Some ideas include bringing in a specific number of new or returning customers or earning a measurable amount of profit in a certain amount of time.
Consider What You Need to Track and Reach Those Goals
Determining what you want from your software requires a thorough investigation of each option’s features. Do you want to be able to keep track of conversations between employees and allow for collaboration? Maybe you want to monitor how your employees interact with customers, or perhaps you want a simple way to communicate with clients via email or chat services. Other features to look for include a way to track sales performance and employee performance, social media collaboration, and the ability to measure how well sales or other promotions are doing.
Look for Something With Flexibility
In addition to a range of features, the enterprise software you choose should be flexible in its technology. Software technology is rapidly evolving. If you choose software from a vendor that doesn’t update as needed, your business will likely fall behind as you struggle to keep up. In addition, a lack of technological updates means you’ll spend more money by purchasing new or additional software every time your business falls too far behind the competition.
The software you choose should also be highly customizable. A lack of features could leave you having to find new ways to do business with the software, meaning you’ll actually be losing time instead of saving it because you will need to train yourself and any employees in new business processes.
Weigh the Cloud Against On-Site Software
Unless you run a healthcare business or financial services company, both of which must follow strict laws regarding keeping personal information out of the cloud, it is probably a good idea to go with a cloud-based software. When your information is only at your place of business, it means you can only do work when you, too, are at your place of business. Cloud-based software is usually accessible from tablets and smartphones, meaning you can do everything you need to no matter where you are. Customers will appreciate your quick service, and you’ll appreciate the ease of access.
Additionally, cloud software vendors often provide the added benefit of backups, updates, and monitoring at no extra cost. If your work is on premises, you will either need to do these tasks yourself or hire someone to come in and do them for you.
Consider the Costs
Before deciding to purchase software from any vendor, be sure to read the fine print. Unfortunately, some vendors use the long contracts and legal jargon to add in extra fees that could cause you to spend much more than you intended. Determine exactly what you need based on the size of your business as well. If you don’t have enough features, your business will be behind the competition, but if you pay for more than you need, you’re throwing away money. Try to find a vendor that allows you to upgrade features as needed.
Ask About Support Services
How much support do the vendors you’re interested in provide? If you’re left to your own devices, you may be looking at hours of frustration as you learn to use the service, and that’s not even factoring in what to do if something breaks. Most good companies will provide free support services via email and chat, and some also offer phone support. Be sure to determine whether they keep strict business hours or offer 24/7 services.
Look Into the Vendors’ Security Measures
Look into each vendor’s security practices. Remember, anything they leave vulnerable also leaves your business vulnerable. They should provide information regarding the training their developers have had, their quality management process, and how often they update security. A good company will communicate with you often. For example, founder of DocuSign Keith Krach writes weekly about everything going on with his business, and even provides tips on how to use the program more efficiently.
Good enterprise business software will allow you to run your company with ease, freeing up your time so you can focus on new promotions, advertising, and everything else that goes into creating a successful business. Remember, not all software vendors are alike, and sometimes you will find something doesn’t meet your needs like you thought it would. For this reason, you should always take advantage of free trials, if provided. They ensure you don’t spend money on something you can’t use.