What things should your small business consider before choosing software?
Perhaps you want to change accountancy software but aren’t sure which app is best? Or you’ve heard of the advantages of CRM but don’t know the good from the bad.
This article helps to make the decision to buy software for small businesses easy.
We offer 8 factors you need to consider before putting your hand in your wallet. Issues like is the software user friendly and is there a steep learning curve? Or is it Cloud-based so you can access it from anywhere?
Read this guide first before committing to buying software.
Types of Software for Small Businesses
The most popular type of software according to Finances Online is CRM or customer relationship management.
Thirty-one percent of SMBs use CRM software to manage their customer records. One-third use CRM in conjunction with video conferencing. Close behind is financial then technology apps.
Options for software cast a wide net depending on your company’s requirements. Yet there are several elements that all the best business software developers offer.
Below are eight factors that you need to be aware of before you commit to buy or use an application.
They will save you time and money, both in the short term and long term. But they’ll also make your business stronger and more appealing to your customer base.
1. Full Functionality
Ask yourself what you need the software to do in order to reach your business’s goals.
Make a list of the essential features followed by those that would make your life easier. If you plan to expand, factor in multiple branches and multicurrency for international trade.
As you investigate each software provider’s website, check off your list against their feature sets.
The volume of viable apps will depend on your industry type. But never accept an inferior product that doesn’t match your expectations.
If something is absent from your list contact the developer to ask why it’s missing. You might discover the feature’s getting released in the new version!
2. Best Pricing Model
Software prices fall into several bands:
- Licensed installed software
- Freeware and open-source
- Subscription and Software as a Service (SaaS)
Remember CDs or DVDs with applications that needed installing? These applications ran on a local desktop or laptop and required an up-front payment to run.
Even app stores like Google Play Store use a similar model. You pay for an app and it downloads to your mobile phone once the transaction’s complete.
With freeware and open-source, you don’t have to pay to use the software.
Open-source is often fully-free as there’s no outlay. Freeware usually comes with restrictions that often exclude business use.
Modern trends have moved to a subscription model for software pricing and usage.
Instead of a large up-front fee, companies subscribe on a monthly or weekly basis. The SaaS system delivers the software online in a web format so you can access it anywhere from any device.
Choose the pricing model that best suits your needs. Calculate how much you’ll spend over three years. Investigate open-source options and if they offer the ongoing support you’ll need.
3. User Friendly
If possible, ask for a test drive before you buy. You’ll soon discover whether the software will suit within the first few minutes.
A complex app with hidden features and cramped content is poorly designed. That usually filters down into how it works. A fresh and clean user interface or UI helps you concentrate on what’s important.
Choose the most user-friendly UI and one that has a low learning curve.
It needs to cover all the bases but you need to find it easy to work with. Otherwise, you’ll soon regret your decision and will need to look elsewhere for the right solution.
4. Online Reviews
If in doubt read a review.
Reviews offer invaluable feedback that brushes aside the marketing spiel. They’re honest opinions based on real-world usage.
If the average customer spends thirteen minutes reading online reviews before committing to buy so should you.
However, don’t trust everything you read.
Some sites pay for fake reviews. But most are easy to spot. If the review offers a glowing report but doesn’t focus on any one thing then ignore it.
Study the reviews that offer detailed information and ‘feel right’.
5. Customer Support
What happens when things go wrong?
Customer help and support go hand-in-hand when using software applications. Something will stop working and you’ll need assistance when it does.
Does the software provider offer telephone support and if so how much do they charge? Is there an online chat facility and can you speak with a developer or knowledgeable agent?
If the website shines all the light on how good the software is without offering future help then move on. You want someone to guide and support you if and when the worst happens.
6. Software Modules
Think long-term when choosing software. That includes identifying apps you can ‘bolt-on’ as you expand.
Many business software providers build their applications in modules. You can start with a foundation module then add to it as required.
For example, Quickbooks offers a payroll module that bolts on to its core system. That means you don’t need to learn a new UI because it’s designed in the same style.
7. Safe and Secure
Any software that stores or processes business data must adhere to proper security standards.
For example, the HIPPA act is a federal law that safeguards patient health data. It requires software developers to ensure their systems are secure against common cyber threats. And that they address the disclosure and use of private medical records.
In the case of virtual medical scribe software service providers, HIPPA compliance is a must.
Check the safety and security policies of the software you’re sourcing. Does it match with your industry guidelines? Do they have certification to prove that? Check their portfolio for evidence of this.
Cloud or Internet-based apps let you run software on any device from anywhere.
You no longer need to be stuck in the office to access your customer or order records. Log in using your phone or laptop from home to gain instant access.
Cloud services also include regular software updates.
Patches get applied automatically so you don’t need to worry about rebooting your computer. And you don’t need to pay for upgrades because they’re part of the service.
Software for Small Businesses and More at KickassFacts
In this article, you’ve learned what factors to consider when choosing software for small businesses.
From reading online reviews to regular software updates, select the app that offers the best experience overall. Remember that cost is only one item on the list. Think about security and support if things go wrong.
KickassFacts offers a wide range of topics for small business owners to read.
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