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    How to choose the right software solution for your small business

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    Technology has changed the landscape of every industry. One study found that Small-to-Medium Sized businesses in North America increased IT spending by 4.8% between 2011 and 2017. These solutions are different for every industry: restaurants may look for point-of-sales and scheduling software while marketing agencies may look for social media and analytics solutions. Regardless of your industry, it’s important to embrace technology.

    In this article, we look at a few things to consider before purchasing a software solution.

    Are you getting your return on investment?

    As business owners and professionals, we all face pain points. This could be finding the best way to schedule restaurant staff or to account for all the children at a daycare. When choosing a software solution, ask yourself whether all the functions of the product solve your problems and whether you’re getting a valuable return on investment.

    The sales person on the other side will try to dazzle you with how much you can save with their product. But this may only apply to certain situations. Think about how the solution would function in your specific scenario and crunch in the numbers.

    For example, if a specific product could save you 40 hours a week and costs $1,500 a month, this could be a good return on investment. That 40 hours would otherwise require an employee who would need to be paid a lot more than $1,500 a month.

    Another point to consider is whether something readily available could solve your problem just as well. If you’re using a pen and paper to draft employee schedules and you’re thinking of buying a scheduling software, it could be that Google Sheets or other spreadsheet software could be just as effective for your circumstance.

    Read reviews

    In one survey, 90% of respondents say that their buying decision is partly due to online reviews. Like buying anything else, reviews are a great way to learn more about the product. The claims that a company makes about its product may not always be entirely accurate. Much of what you learn from their website is marketing collateral.

    Reviews provide the sentiment of other clients/customers of the company and their product. Many out-of-the-box tech solutions have a profile on sites such as TrustRadius or G2Crowd, with current and former customers and clients providing their feedback on the different technologies that their businesses use. For example, Ollie, a brewery order streamlining tool, has 4/5 stars on G2, meaning it would be a great software to add to your workflow.

    Even if you’re purchasing a custom solution, finding reviews of the company can be useful. You will be working with them to implement a new piece of technology, so it’s good to know whether previous clients were satisfied with their work. You want to work with someone reliable and competent.

    Look at the competing products 

    Researching competing products and vendors is another important step in choosing the right software. Like any other product, software solutions have many competitors. If you’re looking for a loyalty rewards program for your coffee shop, there’s no shortage of options. Each solution has a unique value proposition and may target different kinds of businesses. Evaluate what’s most important to you. If you’re price sensitive, you may want to settle for the product that has fewer features but a better price.

    Choosing the right technologies for your business is critical in being efficient and modern. Some solutions could cost thousands but save you and your team even more money. However, make sure you shop around and do your research.

    Originally published July 22, 2019, updated September 21, 2023

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