Key Considerations for Choosing the Right Software
By Mike Kingham
Our clients often ask us for guidelines to help them choose the right software for their business. There are so many products available today, each promising complete solutions to address every need in the office. Business practices will be streamlined and clients will come rushing in the door with XYZ software… right? Well, the answer is a firm maybe. There are some good mass-marketed programs that work for multiple business applications. But, will the one you choose meet your needs? The best way to answer that question is to create a “wish list.”
To get the right product, you need to know what to look for – not in a brand or a version but in actual use. Before you begin software shopping, take a good look at current office practices. What is being done efficiently, and what procedures need a better system? Look at all the little things that are being done manually that could save man-hours by automating. This is the beginning of your wish list.
After looking internally, next take a look at what your customers need. What will make customers want to do business with you and how can you make it easier for them to do so? What automated procedures will set you apart from your competition and what do you need to implement them? Do you need a customer portal which allows clients to access their account information? Would customers like to place orders on line and get immediate service or information? Including your customers’ viewpoint while you create your wish list will give you a clearer picture of what your business needs to thrive.
Once you know what features you are looking for, consider the types of reports and tracking that you need to keep business moving in the right direction. If you plan on growing, get what you need to support that growth. One example of that is a report to show not only revenue per client, but also profitability (definitely not the same thing!) This can provide crucial insight on resource effectiveness. Other considerations include determining if your new program will easily interface with your current system and with your bank, if necessary.
A clear and concise wish list will be your guide to finding the program you need. Software packages will promise wonderful features, but if the program does not address the needs on your list, the end result will be an inefficient system, which is exactly the problem you are looking to solve. So, remember, just because a program does a lot of very impressive things, it may not do what you need.
Another important feature to consider is a “hosted solution.” This means the data is housed for you in a secure database, accessible with an internet connection. This feature allows you to get business done outside the office, from home or on the road. This is also necessary if you need a client access portal.
Choosing the best program for your office becomes significantly easier once you know what you want and your wish list is the tool to get you there. The best news of all is that you never have to settle for less than a perfect fit with ePolk. If off-the-shelf does not meet all of your needs, we can provide a custom fit to your specifications. ePolk is honored to be your trusted source for internet technology. Call us at 863.291.4268.