The following is a guest post written by Robyn from adimesaved.com
Running your own business requires a lot of planning, organizing, and prioritizing. Back in the old days, you’d have to use a paper calendar and a lengthy to-do list on a yellow notepad to keep track of all of the day’s tasks. But in the digital age, business management is a different story.
In many ways, it’s more complicated to grow your business in the digital world. Still, there are also plenty of tools tailored to your very industry that are ready to help you do everything from running your payroll to improving workflow efficiency.
But with a sea of tech tools on the market, how do you choose what’s right for you? Use these tips to discover industry-specific tools that could help your business and learn how to vet software tools for your business adequately.
Since switching software can be a costly and time-intensive endeavor, you must make sure you choose the right software for your industry and business before spending money and time on new software.
In the ever-changing business climate, it’s always important to be on top of your game and stay up to date with the latest technology. However, there are many different options for software, and it can be tough to find the best option for you. Therefore, there are some factors that you should take into consideration before making a purchase.
Here are some steps you can take to make sure you invest in the right software for your industry.
Before you commit to any new software additions, use your local network to find out if any other leaders in your industry are using tools that are working for them. Many industries have online forum communities that foster dialogue between business owners and experts. For example, you could find an engineering and technology forum, a hotel management group, or a restaurant management community with a quick search online. Don’t be afraid to source answers from the people who know your industry best.
If you have connections with other industry leaders, ask them for advice on which software they are using or have found useful. You can also ask your employees- especially if any of them have worked in the industry before, for other companies. What software have they found to be helpful? What software is not worth the investment?
Read Reviews and Compare
Maybe you have an idea of the product you want to test out. That’s great! When a product or service claims to solve all of our pain points, it’s tempting to say “sign me UP” and pay into a contracted service agreement as soon as possible. But many of these programs require hefty subscription fees and tough-to-break contracts, so you may want to do some research before signing on any dotted lines. Don’t make decisions out of desperation.
Start by reading some reviews of the product, considering both the positive and negative ones. If other products do the same thing, you may also want to look at some comparison charts to help you weigh the pros and cons of each.
Take Advantage of Free Trials
Many software programs and services offer free trials that you should definitely take advantage of. For example, many free CRM trials even let you upload your customer data, integrate your invoicing tools, and get the support of a sales representative to help you build your platform with best practices in mind. This may sound time-consuming, but this extra step will help you evaluate how the product helps your business and if the investment is suitable for your business.
Investigate Customer Service Support
One of the most crucial parts of using new software is ensuring that you have proper customer service support that can help you throughout the onboarding process and beyond. Ask around to see which software companies offer dynamic customer service and ask pointed questions about the support available and how responsive the company is to your complaints and issues.
Make Sure Everything is Integrated
The beauty of software and technology is that there’s something for just about every one of your business needs. But where it can get chaotic is when you have all of your eggs in different baskets, so to speak. For example, your invoices are one platform, customer contact information on another, and documented processes and procedures on yet another program. Remember: these tools are designed to help you and make your life easier, not complicate things. Naturally, therefore, you must integrate your apps to keep your workflow consistent.
And to integrate, you must ensure that they are integrative. Asking this simple question can help you avoid switching programs, processes and struggling with inconsistent data that may derail your day-to-day workflow.
Implement Strong Training Practices
Not even the best app can solve your business’ biggest issues if you don’t train your staff properly. To ensure the tool is functioning as it’s supposed to, it’s important to make sure all of your staff is trained consistently. If one person utilizes the program one way and another person does something completely different, it will only worsen any pain points your organization is experiencing. Instead, try to train staff all on the same day to help make sure everyone is on the same page. This will help your staff adapt easier to the new process and increase the ROI of your new product. In addition, when everyone is adopting the same technology simultaneously, the adoption is quicker and less painless.
Choosing the Right Software For Your Industry
With the right tools at your disposal, your business operations can drastically improve. But to find products that do just that, simply follow these steps, and you’re sure to find tools designed to accelerate your cash flow. Make sure your staff is on board with the changes you are about to make and do your research to ensure you are making the correct decision for your company.
Robyn is the author of the popular money saving blog adimesaved.com.