Sunday, November 20, 2011

Choosing IT solutions based on your business' size

IT is a complex domain. For a given problem, there'll always be a great number of solutions. Each solution has its pros, its cons and an associated budget. The choices to be made for a small business are far from obvious but here's some advice on how to take in account your business reality to your IT needs.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

4 Types of Essential Software Metrics for Small Businesses

Most small businesses face the problem of being reactive rather than proactive. Consulting financial or operational reports are often done at the end of given periods. It is only then that they realize the errors that were made and how to adjust for the next period.  What if its too late? 
Metrics help deal with problems in the
present , past and future.

How can a small business take control? How can the small business administrator be aware in real time of all the different aspects of his business? Its not impossible to do it manually but its quite expensive and time consuming.  The best way is without a doubt to put in place well defined software metrics.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Software Offshore Outsourcing: Good or Bad?

Software outsourcing itself is not bad. Small businesses can't necessarily afford to put in place an IT department. In fact, for small businesses, I generally recommend outsourcing their IT needs. However, between outsourcing locally and offshore, there is quite a difference...

Friday, August 19, 2011

How to Avoid Overkill Software

In one of my previous posts, I explained why overkill software could be harmful for your business. In today's post, I'll try to cover some of the measures that can be taken to avoid getting stuck with such software.
The problem many businesses will encounter is that its hard to find a software solution that meets their exact needs.  Although this is the case, its important to take the time to choose the right software solution wisely.  Once we've chosen one, its quite difficult to switch again.

I'll try to help you evaluate every option you have when choosing a business software solution.  The goal of this post is not to tell you to buy this type or that type of software but rather to help you take conscience of the implications that some software solutions might have on your business.

Although, I'm aware its not the case, if we were in an ideal world, I think every business would benefit from having one of the following software architectures in place :

1-All in one Software Suite (ERP)

This is a all-in-one solution that will meet all your processes and needs without being overly-functional.  The software suite must cover all the business activities such as accounting, marketing, sales, operations, production, customer service, inventory, etc.  Usually if your company is in a very popular domain (ex: restaurant) and that you follow the industry standards, chances are there is a software solution that will help you manage your whole business without many alterations. On the other hand, if you have innovative processes in place and that you wish to swim against the current, you probably will not find an out-of-the-box ERP system. In this case a custom solution is probalbly preferable.

2- Connecting Small Specialized Software Solutions

With the growing popularity of SaaS, we see more and more software solutions coming out that have very limited functionalities but that offer great means to connect with other applications through API or WebServices. These kind of solutions allow clients to choose the software pieces that meet their different needs and to connect them with one another.  Great examples of such small specific software solutions are Google Calendar, Email, Docs and Tasks as well as Freshbook's billing software.  These products offer a very small functionality but that can be used by many different contexts and that won't overlap (too much) with other software solutions.

3- Custom Software Solution

A custom software solution allows you to keep the data and processes managed by your software to your strict needs.  The software can then evolve with your business and adapt to any structural or major changes. Custom software solutions can also be hybrid solutions in which you connect some small specialized solutions to the larger custom solution.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

4 ways to profit from free software solutions

In my last article, I tried to demystify a few questions concerning free software solutions. I went rather quickly through one of the most important aspects though: how do providers profit from free software? I will complete my answer in this article.

Why offer free software? Why would a provider or even an investor be interested in giving away their product?

Not only is it expensive to build, but you need to host it, distribute it, promote it, etc. All of these are quite expensive. So why offer it freely?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Demystifying Free Software Solutions

Personally, when I'm shopping around for a personal or business related software, I'm tempted to go for free solutions.

Whatever the software need or the platform:  personal computer, Iphone or business server, I try to find a free software alternative. I'm obviously not talking of cracked software but of legally free software.

This is obviously an intersting economic solution but its very important to understand what we're getting into when we choose a free software solution.

In this article, I answer a few questions I regularly encounter:

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Overkill Software can be harmful to your business

When shopping for a product, everyone wants more for his money. Whether for a car, perfume, meal, we love to have those little extras or side orders offered with the price of our purchase. Even though this is normal behaviour, we need to be careful when purchasing software solutions that offer more and more functionalities.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Cloud Discussions: Should small businesses jump in the SaaS bandwagon?

In my last post I tried to answer some of the questions I most frequently hear from small business owners concerning the Cloud. Amongst other things, I talked of SaaS solutions. This post will primarily focus on these SaaS solutions and when they should be applied to small businesses.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cloud Discussions: What small businesses need to know about Cloud Computing

My next few articles will concern Cloud Computing. Here is the first of the batch.

Lately, I have had many people ask me if Cloud Computing was appropriate for their needs or not. Its obviously a new trend and many providers are trying to sell this as the way of the future. So is it? I prepared a small FAQ to answer some of the main questions.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

10 things to consider when choosing a Business Software Solution

A round number...impressive !

The choice of a business software solution is an important one. A business software solution is any software that manages critical enterprise data or processes such as an ERP, CRM, accounting software, inventory software, custom software, etc.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

3 ways you can integrate an enterprise software solution

Now that you've decided you need a software to manage your business information and processes, what are your options?
Well, you have 3 options:
  1. Buying an integrated solution
  2. Creating a personnalized solution
  3. Buying and creating a hybrid solution

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The pivotal role software can and should play in small businesses

Now you've probably guessed by the name of my blog or by the title of this post that I think software plays an important role for small businesses. Well you're right but you might not believe how much importance I convey to it.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

What are Smart Software Decisions?

Through this blog, I'm not trying to be extravagant or fish out an extraordinary and untouched topic like chicken-liver-lovers or banana-fetishes ('re thinking of opening a new tab and googling that? Really!) What I really want to do is give my hope-to-be-unique take on how, why and when small businesses should hunt, choose or change their software solutions.