Every company needs software. It may be basic as email, but, rest assured, if somebody is running a business in the 21st century, they need software.
The amount of software a company needs and the functions required differ from company to company. Some businesses need project management software, others need data analysis software, plenty need both.
However, if you’re asking yourself if you need a certain type of software, it’s important you know how to answer that before spending a bunch of money on something that becomes a dusty, unclicked icon on your computer’s app dock.
Don’t get carried away with features
Software companies often sell their product by touting its features. “Hey look, with this feature you can tell what time of day each of your employees is at his or her most productive.” Sure that sounds great, but before getting carried away with a new feature, ask yourself if it’s solving a problem your business is suffering from.
The above feature may be useful for some companies, and it’s certainly interesting. But if your business doesn’t have an issue with worker productivity, you don’t want to shell out a bunch of shekels for it.
Features are often nothing more than shiny toys, so it’s no surprise sales folks like to trumpet them in their sales pitches.
I’m not suggesting you be anti-feature, it’s just important to remember that features are a means to an end, and that end is a solution to a business problem.
To Need Software, you Need Problems
Before you ask yourself if you need software, you first need to identify a business problem or an area for improvement. An investment in software should be a reaction to the identification of a problem.
If you see an ad for a business software and think “oh I like that,” sound the alarm. There’s a good chance you’ve already started creating problems in your head to justify adopting the shiny new software you’ve “discovered.”
Now, if you’ve already identified some of the areas you could improve your business, and then you come across a software that actually offers some functionality for improving that area, you may have found software that you actually need.
Identifying Business Problems
It’s a good idea to do occasional evaluations of your business and all of the processes that eventually lead to your output. If you don’t take the time to take the temperature of things, you’ll never really know what’s working well and what’s not.
This is an area where feedback is critical. Whether you’re running a business of 100 people or a team of 10, you need to make a point to listen to feedback. Leaders within organizations are forced to delegate tasks, and once delegated, it becomes nearly impossible to know how well the process performing the task is working.
So, listen to your employees. If they say a process isn’t working, believe them. Sure, look at the final product as well. If folks are saying something isn’t working, but the ultimate output is as desired, you have reason to dig deeper, not ignore your employees’ gripes.
Look for alternate solutions
Sometimes it will be simple and straightforward. You’ve identified a problem, and there’s a clear solution that some tool will provide. If this is the case, you need software. Get it.
However, not every solution can be solved by new software—and some that can, probably don’t need to be. Look for workarounds or other solutions before investing in a new tool. Remember, that shiny new software isn’t going anywhere, in fact, it’s probably only going to get better.
Time to buy
Once you’ve exercised all your options, if you’re still finding yourself with a need for a specific software, pull the trigger.
Chances are, if you’ve carefully deliberated on your decision, the ultimate decision you make will be a fruitful one. When you purchase a software that fulfills an actual need, the results can be incredibly beneficial.