Business owners often believe that purchasing off-the-shelf or pre-built software solutions will be cheaper and easier. However, that’s often a misconception: Finding a ready-made software solution that meets unique needs isn’t always as easy as clicking “buy.” Some products may meet some needs while another meets others — but chances are there isn’t a single perfect solution. So, how can company leaders prioritize and figure out what’s most important in potential software products?
As you research available out-of-the-box software solutions, cloud offerings, and hosted options to deploy in your environment, we suggest you consider these five factors for your company before you make your decision.
- Integration — For a new software solution to work well for your needs, it must integrate well with your existing systems. According to Gartner research, this means a product will help “create a consistent and coherent set of information across enterprise applications.” If you’re thinking about a cloud or hybrid solution, you also need to consider integration between the legacy apps within your environment and cloud applications as cloud vendors provide services to push and pull data from their apps to your legacy apps. Your decision should ultimately successfully add to existing systems and help improve overall businesses operation. If it can’t, it may not be the right solution.
- Data — According to an Inc. article, “data is essential for companies.” With the huge amounts of data today’s devices produce — big data — owners of companies big and small are missing out if they’re not harnessing its power and using it to benefit their businesses. On top of that, you must consider data migration and security when working with cloud or hybrid solution options. If the proposed ready-made software solution you’re considering isn’t capable of adequately capturing and utilizing big data, it likely isn’t a good fit.
- Functionality — According to an Entrepreneur article, you should “stick to the absolute minimum you need to get the job done.” If the off-the-shelf product can meet your business operation needs, great. If not, it’s best to find something that will. Another consideration when comparing software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers is adapting to the functionality other platform users are employing, which could limit your ability to customize the solutions to your requirements.
- Efficiency — Business leaders need to operate efficiently to increase production and reduce expenses; technology should add to this efficiency. If the software solution in question won’t add efficiency to your processes and assist employees’ effectiveness while improving workflows, if might not be a worthwhile solution. Consider cloud, hosted, or hybrid options, but don’t forget about software maintenance needs and costs over the application life cycle when choosing.
- Scalability — According to a SmallBizDaily article, “it’s important to make sure its technology solutions can easily adjust to support the new demands of the organization.” If the new solution can’t grow and be flexible as your business changes over time, it may not fit your company for very long. This may be a good opportunity to consider cloud, hosted, or hybrid services.
Still don’t know which way to go on your software solution decision? An IT expert can help you find a new system that can integrate with your functioning software so you not only make the most of what you have now but also see a strong return on investment.