Every business needs a selection of different software solutions to operate efficiently such as estimating software for builders. But how can you tell which platforms you actually need? And how do you determine the best platform for each need?
These are hard questions to answer. But they become much easier to answer when you have the right approach guiding your decision making.
General Best Practices
These are some of the more important best practices to follow while evaluating your company’s software needs:
- Keep an open mind. Try to keep an open mind and remain open to a variety of potential applications.
- Collect opinions from the team. Don’t try to conduct evaluations or make decisions entirely on your own. Talk to your team members – especially those who will be using this software on a daily basis.
- Remain objective. It’s hard to be totally objective, but do make an effort to challenge your preconceived notions and biases.
- Rely on data. When possible, rely on objective data when making needs assessments.
When determining whether you need a new software platform to handle a given problem, these are some of the most important variables you’ll need to assess:
- Business objectives. What exactly are you trying to accomplish by getting this new software? What problems are you trying to solve or what issues are you trying to address? The better you understand these, the more easily you’ll be able to find a solution.
- Core features and functionality. What are the core features that are necessary in order to help you achieve these objectives? What should the software do, and what types of software are best for doing those things? For example, CMMS and EAM software appear similar on the surface, but they have significantly different core features to offer.
- Integration and adoption. What would the experience of adopting and integrating this platform be like? Are your employees going to find it easy and intuitive to learn how to use this platform? Does it integrate with other platforms you’re already using?
- Cost. How much does it cost to purchase this product? Does it work with your current budget or are you going to have to increase your spending to accommodate it?
- Performance metrics and evaluation. How will you be able to tell if this software platform is doing its job? Which key performance metrics will help you evaluate it?
Setting the Right Priorities
The outcome of your final decision will depend heavily on whether you’ve set the right priorities. There’s no such thing as a perfect software solution, and there are typically hundreds of software applications on the market attempting to solve a given problem.
Accordingly, you need to know which qualities or features are most important to you and which ones can be compromised on. For example, you might be willing to sacrifice certain core features if it means getting a platform that’s under budget.
Additionally, you could be interested in assembling best-in-class platforms, individually, for a variety of business needs, or opt for something more all-encompassing, like enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.
Some applications are highly specific, serving only one niche need, while others are broader, attempting to serve many needs simultaneously. It’s ideal to work big to small, starting with your largest software canvas and gradually working your way to more niche applications to fill in the gaps.
In any case, your software decisions are going to be heavily impactful, dictating the future of your business. Make sure you evaluate the landscape thoroughly before making any final decisions.