How to Choose the Right Software for your Business
Updated: Nov 8, 2022
As I talk with fellow business owners, I see the struggle they have with mundane and duplicate processes where technology can help. I also see their frustration as they parse through the vast amount of software options as they ascertain what is the right technology to scale their business. On the other end of the spectrum, I commonly meet with business leaders who find themselves in a situation where the organization has forced their processes to fit a particular software that doesn’t allow them to grow their business. So how and where do you find the right technology tool for your business needs?
Software is just a tool:
First, let’s make sure we are all thinking about software in the same way. Software is just a tool; the trick is finding the right tool for the task at hand. If you were to build a deck and you decided that screws were the best material to connect the wood together, your tool of choice would be a screwdriver. If by chance you decided to build a deck using nails, you would use a hammer. Perhaps your deck design required nails and screws, then you need both a screwdriver and a hammer. We can get a bit more complicated and say, we want the job to go faster and be more efficient, so we could upgrade our tools to a nail gun or a power drill. You should think about the use of software in the same manner to run your business.
How to find the right software for your business:
Much like the deck building analogy we described earlier, your business can use different software tools based on the specific use case required. Choosing the right software for your business or business unit can be an overwhelming endeavor. Typically, there may be tradeoffs to consider with regards to needed features, cost, security, ease of use, flexibility, scalability, integrations with other software, setup costs, and implementation timeline. Therefore, let’s break this down into some basic steps to get you started.
1. Determine what you need, who needs it, and how much you want to spend.
Initially you may or may not know what actual technology or software is available to fit your needs. Write a brief description of what you want a software program to do. The description does not need to be fancy, just something basic to get you started. Then name who in your business will use the software and how much you are willing to spend. It is good early in the software selection process to get the right stakeholders involved to help identify the right application for the business. The budget here may be an arbitrary number, as you may have no idea what is out in the market, which is fine, it will give you a starting point in order to see the value of the software to the business.
2. Put a scorecard together to configure the proper alignment to find the right software tool.
One of the best ways I have found to compare software is to set up a scorecard with weighted characteristics based on the preferred criteria of the software. I then assign a score with a ranking based on 1-10 to each characteristic of the software. The weight percentage is determined by your stakeholders within the company. To find the final weighted score, multiply the weight percentage and the score per characteristic and then add up the sum of all the characteristics per the software. By scoring the software based on a weighted percentage, you can have a balanced view of which software is the best fit for your business. Below is an example of a software scorecard:
Software Application Scorecard:
3. Research what software is available.
We all know how to type a question into Google. However, the results you get from your search might not be all you hope for with regards to finding reliable information that is not marketing fluff. It is always best to find sites that help you compare assorted software by displaying product features, costs, and online reviews. Online reviews are a terrific way to get a user’s perspective of the software before buying the product. To get you started, below are the top 10 software and product review websites according to SoftwareWorld.
4. Cloud versus On-Premise
Software applications reside within the confines of a business owned on-premise environment or within a Cloud environment or even reside within a mix of the two known as a Hybrid environment. Your business will need to decide what works best for your use case. Some businesses gravitate to on-premise solutions due to data compliance and security requirements based on their industry, such as finance businesses and healthcare organizations. Other business segments, such as small businesses, tend to use cloud offerings because they have low up-front cost and lower maintenance obligations. However, you may not have an option as some software applications have only cloud offerings.
5. Perpetual, Subscription and SaaS software license pricing.
A perpetual software license requires a customer to pay a “one-time fee” for the software upfront. The customer then owns the software and can use it indefinitely without paying any additional software fees. It may or may not include a limited support contract and free updates. Typically, this pricing is for on-premise software applications.
Subscription software license pricing has various pricing models that involve the customer paying a regular service fee to use the software. Depending on the software, it can be used on-premise or in the Cloud. There are 4 general types of subscription models:
a. Fixed Pricing Model: Software is at a single price for a fixed set of features charged on a monthly or annual basis.
b. Tiered Pricing Model: Software price is based on packaged bundles. The Software bundles are categorized by the feature set and number of users allowed to use the software.
c. Per User Model: Software price is based on the number of users allowed to use the software.
d. Usage Model: Costs are associated by the amount of the service or product used. For example, a cloud provider that charges a rate per kilobyte (KB) for downloaded data.
Software as a Service (SaaS) is a subscription software pricing model used for Cloud Applications.
The table below shows the pros and cons of what is most often compared options for a business with regards to reviewing an on-premise perpetual license software application versus a SaaS application.
Perpetual software license (on-premise application) vs. SaaS:
What if after my research, I don’t find a software that really fits my needs?
Yes, there isn’t always an app for everything. At times custom software development makes the most sense. Custom software fits exactly to the feature set you are looking for in an application. You can scale the custom software as required and integrate into software your organization is currently using. Custom software does usually have a higher upfront cost then commercial- off- the-shelf (COTS) software, however, over time it is a cost savings as you own the software and pay no license fees.
Picking the right software for your business can be a daunting task. The steps in this blog post should help you organize your search. However, with enterprise-level systems like a CRM, Data Warehouse, custom software applications or an Analytics software application you might need a little help. At Scalesology our experience staff is ready to assist you. Our technology needs assessment will review your processes and make sure the software solutions align with your needs. Contact us today, and let’s figure out the best way to get started.