Step 1: Set objectives for new software

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Before you start thinking about which software to buy, you need to know what problems you want it to solve.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you work out why you’re buying it and what you want it to achieve.

What do I want the software to do?

Consider your business goals and how new technology can help you achieve them.

Knowing exactly what you’re looking for will give you a clearer idea of what software you need, and the features it should include. If you think about your three main pain points, there’s bound to be technology out there to address them.

For example:

  • You may get a good volume of visitors to your website, but could you increase sales by using e-Commerce software that lets them buy directly from you?
  • Do you want to maximise sales opportunities? Maybe productivity and sales are strong – but you want to track them better to understand where there are dips.
  • Do you want easier ways for your teams, who are based in locations across the UK, to share information and work on documents together?
  • Do you want to coordinate your communications with customers? It could be that Customer Relationship Software (CRM) software will mean you can offer a better, more streamlined customer experience.
  • Perhaps you want your business to work more efficiently. Do you have various processes on different systems (such as customer orders, stock-level data and delivery details)? Would replacing them with one, more efficient set-up save time and help make sure you always meet your delivery deadlines?
  • Do you want to automate tasks such as reporting and invoicing, sort payroll, file tax returns more easily, and match transactions to your accounts with one click?

Set yourself some measurable goals that will make your business more efficient, or reduce the burden on you, then explore how software is likely to help you achieve it.

What’s worked and what hasn’t with software I’ve used before?

Have you tried software in the past? Did it help you achieve your goals?

If not, think about why it didn’t work to help you avoid having the same issues again. What barriers did you come across last time that you wouldn’t want to repeat? Keep this in mind when looking at the features new software could offer.

For example, perhaps the tech you’ve introduced before didn’t integrate well with your other systems, which meant it caused as many problems as it solved. Or perhaps your team didn’t use it as you expected them to because they couldn’t access the right training. Now’s the time to learn from past experiences.

Whether you’ve had problems with installation, implementation or adoption of new technology in the past, these are important factors to plan now.

You’ll need to work out how much you can do in-house and where you might need some extra support. This could include:

  • Who will install the new software? Will the software company support you in this or will you need to do it yourself? If, for example, you’ve struggled to transfer data from old systems onto new ones in the past, perhaps you’ll want more external support this time.
  • Will you need any help with training your team? How many people need training, and will it be different for some job roles? If you have staff based in various locations, would online rather than face-to-face training be more practical?
  • Are there people in your business who could champion the change and support those who need more help?

These might seem like big considerations for early in the process. But understanding the pros and cons of previous software you’ve used will help you to identify how much time, effort and money you need to reach the objective you’re now setting.

Is there anything else I need to think about at this stage?

Now you’ve got a clearer idea of what you want to achieve – and if you’ve used tech before, the pitfalls to avoid – take one last look at any other obstacles you might face.

These could be things like:

  • Would integrating new software cause issues that might affect your ability to trade until they’re sorted, or reduce productivity?
  • Will you be introducing new ways of working or services? Could delays in setting them up affect your customers?
  • How will the new software work throughout your business? Will you install the software all in one go, or in stages?

Help to Grow: Digital guidance

Step 2: Write your requirements list

Use our checklist to draw up a list of the features you need software to have. This will help you compare products and choose the right one for you.

Step 3: Calculate your software budget

Use our checklists to help you understand the potential financial benefits and savings, plus the financial costs, you need to consider before buying.

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