Your business probably uses a variety of software systems, whether it’s for an accounting function, a manufacturing process or a scheduling process. It has been said that technology doubles in advancement nearly every 12-18 months. New updates, new releases, and new products are brought to market constantly. Yet, when was the last time you or your team evaluated your current software or compared it to other existing options?
Most people dread the idea of switching software or converting to a newer version, but if you and your team do the homework, the transition doesn’t have to be so painful or costly.
Considerations For Your Current Software
Consider the following points when evaluating your existing software:
- Does your current software do what you want it to? If so, does your staff know how to use it effectively?
- Does your current software do what you need it to? Have you had to put many workarounds into your systems to make the software work?
- Are your users complaining?
- Is your IT department complaining?
- Are you paying a lot for the service you are receiving?
- Are you getting the IT support you need from the software company?
Five Tips For Easing Your Software Evaluation Process
When you decide to evaluate your software, here are some tips to ease the process:
- Assign a project manager. This person will be responsible for making sure team members are completing assignments and for keeping the group moving forward.
- Put together a team of users. Consider who uses the software and include members who vary in experience, IT savviness and tenure. Include a member of your IT team.
- Do your research. Call on companies who are in your industry to see what they use and ask them about their experiences. Are they satisfied with their software? How do they effectively use it? Also call on companies who use your existing software also to see what their experiences have been.
- Calculate a cost/benefit analysis. With any conversion, there are hard costs and soft costs involved. Calculate the amount of time and resources a change could involve, as well as its impact on your team’s morale. If there is a large conversion cost to incur, how quickly will you earn that back with the efficiencies to be gained from making the change?
- Keep the end goal in mind. What are you trying to accomplish by going through this process? For example, are you trying to find something that will help you gain efficiencies? Be sure the testing and research is focused around those kinds of end goals.
Best Practices For Selecting Business Software
Change for the sake of change is never a good thing. You want to be able to show that you adequately vetted out possible solutions and that the conclusion has been reached by the team. Perhaps you will find out that your current system is adequate, but that your team needs additional training on how to use it to its fullest potential. It would be more cost effective to schedule additional training rather than to go through an unnecessary and costly software conversion. Your team, and your budget, will thank you in the end.
If you would like to learn about more best practices, contact Rea & Associates. Our accounting professionals and business advisors can help you determine what steps you should take during your business software selection process.
Author: Lesley Mast, CPA, Macc-Taxation (Wooster office)
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