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.

Finding the right solution is definitely not an easy task but that's why Software Experts like me make a living ;) You must at least see what your alternatives are before you dive in a solution that will be overly-functional and for which you will lose a lot of time and money.

Business owners often don't consider building a software solution to their exact needs or connecting many solutions together because of the price tag.  These solutions are more expensive, no doubt, but are they more expensive than employees struggling with  the chosen overy-functional software solution? Is it more expensive than having employees working on repetitive data-entry between 2 or more systems?

Not always.

1 comment:

  1. Custom software solution is one of my way too, actually it helps in determining and focusing on the actual business need, and therefore in offering a unique solution to efficiently accomplish that specific need.