Choosing The Right Software

 

Choosing the right software is one the most critical business decisions you will make. A wrong decision is not easily reversible. Once you are in, it is costly to get out. If you get rid of it, not only do you lose all of your investment, you usually lose your data as well. We recently talked with a tire store owner in Minnesota that had to hire an additional employee to compensate for the extra work created by their new software program. After giving the system a fair chance to work, they have decided to replace the software. This is one of the more expensive software programs and represents significant financial loss.

So, just how do you avoid such a terrible mistake?

You do not need to be a software wiz to make a good decision. If you know your business and can apply a little common sense you can do it. You make your decision by evaluating the software in five areas. These areas are the program’s functionality, flexibility, support, technology path, and cost of ownership. Here is what to consider when evaluating each of these areas…


1. Functionality.

Does it handle the basics well? Don’t be fooled by a features list. Features can always be “tacked on”, but if the fundamentals are bad, the “features” are no more than sales tools for the software company. The basics are these.

SIMPLICITY – Does it make sense? Can an untrained employee who knows nothing but the tire business intuitively figure out how to use the software?

SECURITY - Does the software protect your business against people who would steal its money or its data?

RELIABILTY - Is the software stable? Is the data “corruption resistant”?

ACCURACY - Does the software help prevent typing errors or errors in judgment?

EFFICIENCY - Does the software allow you to process an order in the least number of keystrokes thus reducing customer wait time and labor cost?

All in all, the software should be as easy and comfortable to use as a hammer. If it passes this test then evaluate the “bells and whistles”.


2. Flexibility

Can you easily modify the software to suit your changing needs? Who knows how your business may evolve in the coming years. Your software should be able to adjust.


3. Technology Path

Is the software compatible with current technologies? Every computer bought today comes with the Windows 10 operating system. Has the software you’re considering been thoroughly tested for “Windows 10” compatibility? Stories of people using it on Windows 10 without problems are not good enough. Promises of future compatibility are not good enough.

How well does the software utilize the Internet? Can invoices, statements, receipts, thank you notes, and follow-ups be electronically mailed? Can the software directly access Internet sites you regularly use in your business? If you are not using the Internet in your business it still matters: because you will be.


4. Cost of Ownership.

Suppose you had two software packages to choose from. Assume both programs were about equal in the tasks they performed. Now consider that one program cost $100 and the other cost $30,000. Which would you buy? You might say, “The $100 program, of course”. Now suppose you saved $29,900 on the purchase but one year later found out that with the $30,000 program you could have eliminated 1 sales person, reduced customer wait time, reduced training time, reduced employee input errors, deterred employee cash drawer theft, and protected your information from falling into the wrong hands. What a shock to find out that the $30000 program could have actually saved you $60,000 over the less expensive software. It could be worse. What if the $30000 program could actually boost your ticket average by 20% generating an additional $300,000 in revenues?

This story is to illustrate the point that the biggest price you pay for software is not the purchase price but the cost of ownership. Also consider that difficult software creates a great deal of stress. The indirect costs associated with your stress and that of your employees cannot be measured but are surely significant.

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