Your software is just as important as an employee – so it’s time to make sure you ask the right questions of it before you take it on board.

It may not be something you have ever really thought about before but you should consider your new business software in the same way you would interview a new employee….interview? Yes, you heard us right! It may sound strange but it’s important you assess the fit of your software just as you would a prospective employee. Choosing the wrong solution could have a negative impact on your business. Bearing this in mind we suggest approaching any new software solution by investigating it thoroughly – making sure it ticks all the boxes you need – it could be that you need to compare the advantages and disadvantages of developing your own bespoke software solution or decide if an off the shelf commercial business software would be a better fit for you.

Approaching your software requirements as an interview will help you in the long run as it allows you to assess all the requirements you need and puts you in the best position of deciding between an off-the-shelf solution or developing your own bespoke solution.

So what are the questions you should be considering for your software?

1) Does the software have all the right skills for the job?

2) Is it the right fit for your team?

3) Is the software the right investment for your business?

Let us dive into these questions a little deeper.

Does the software have all the right skills for the job? This is one of the first questions you would address with a prospective employee, your software is no different. It is especially important to consider this question if you are looking at purchasing off-the-shelf commercial software, designed for the mass market and designed to be used by a broad range of industries. Yes, this software may tick ‘most’ of the boxes but it doesn’t necessarily mean it is the right solution for your requirements. You will be paying for the privilege of having a full suite of features and functionality but if you are only going be using a few of these features then the majority of the package is useless to you – meaning you will be wasting a substantial amount of your budget on something you will never use. 

On the flip side, the commercial software you find may offer you some of the features you need but is lacking in another area meaning you may need another solution to work alongside this software or hire a developer to custom-build you the features you need to fill the gaps – keep in mind that off the shelf software may or may not allow additional features to be added by a developer.

When it comes to developing your own bespoke software this is still a very important question, it may not have the skills you need initially but by the time you have finished, it will be the perfect candidate as it will have the exact skills your business needs – it just takes a little longer. You have the added benefit of being able to ‘add on’ to your bespoke software skillset as your business changes and adapts.

Is it the right fit for your team? This is a question you would 100% consider if you were taking on a new member of staff, your software solution is no different so it makes sense how the software’s own work processes match your workforce. Although your software can’t quit on you it can make life difficult if it isn’t a good fit for your team.

With commercial software, it may be able to carry out the work to a degree but it may be that the method is strict and might not match your own work processes – because the software is already built there is little you can do but compromise and adapt how you work in order to use the software. This will mean changing the habits of your team, and how you carry out your work. Not really the perfect solution. 

A bespoke software solution will fit straight into your business without interruption or the need to change how you and the teamwork because the product will be designed exactly to your needs. The amazing thing with bespoke software solutions is that it can be designed to follow an existing method of working or mimic an existing system that needs replacing. 

A good solution will bring something new to your team but will fit in without conflict or compromise.

Whatever solution you decide upon it should be able to adapt as your business grows or changes.

Is the software the right investment for your business? Like employing staff, your software can be a costly addition to your business, so it is important to address the direct costs associated with the investment as well as the rewards.  

Developing custom bespoke software can come at a high price but you will avoid ongoing costs associated with off-the-shelf commercial software, for example, you won’t need to pay licences fees and costs for additional users (this can be tough on the budget when you have a big team that all need access). It may take longer to develop and implement, but once it’s up and running the solution is completely yours and any changes that need making can be done entirely in your own time.

If you are looking at getting up and running quickly then an off-the-shelf solution is a no-brainer – but you must consider the ongoing costs and remember that although it might be quicker to get up and running the downfall is there is no guarantee on the longevity of the product and its features.

With any software solution, you will need to take the time to train staff on how to use it – the difference with bespoke software is that it can be built to mimic an existing process or follow a pattern defined by you – meaning your employees will probably find a bespoke solution easier to use. 

Once you have asked yourself these questions about the software solutions on offer you will be better informed to make a decision on the solution that will most benefit your business and your employees. If you are looking at developing your own software solution or are in need of a ‘bolt-on’ solution we are here to help! Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.