Even today, many smaller companies don’t take advantage of software solutions. A study from Fit Small Business revealed that no single type of software category had a full 50 percent usage rate. The highest ranked—accounting-based programs—was at 49.8 percent. The most common reason given for not purchasing the software was cost, yet the efficiency gained by using the right tools will pay back the initial investment many times over.
Choosing the right business software can be daunting. Many vendors make the same promotional claims, and there are so many options available. So, how do you make the right decision for your business? Read this guide to learn the critical questions that need to be answered before you buy software for a home improvement company.
What Are You Trying to Solve?
If your operational needs aren’t aligned with the software tools you’re considering, you could end up making a big investment that doesn’t help your business. There are three main reasons why construction companies adopt new software: company growth, new employees highlighting the need for standard processes, or a costly mistake, according to a Construction Industry Trends report by Software Advice. Whatever your reason, use it to guide your decision-making.
What Makes Your Needs Special?
Some software platforms focus on a core business function regardless of industry (i.e. sales, marketing, accounting). Other solutions are designed to address the unique needs of businesses serving a specific sector. There is no “better” choice between industry-agnostic versus industry-specific solutions, but there are trade-offs. For instance, industry-agnostic options usually require more customization to make them work for your service model, whereas industry-specific options may require you have more than one vendor to span all your needs and goals.
What Software Do You Already Have?
Before looking for new vendors, business owners should take inventory of software they already have and decide what they want to keep and what they want to replace. This serves two purposes. First, it narrows your focus to software solutions that fill a gap in your business, which can keep you from overbuying. A peripheral benefit is that you may become aware of functionality in your existing environment that you never knew you had. Second, the inventory gives you a checklist to discuss with software vendors to determine if they can interface with the solutions you already use.
Who Will “Own” the Solution In-house?
Despite how easy it has gotten to adopt cloud-based solutions, in-house management is still needed to ensure long-term success. You’ll need to adapt your processes to reap the benefits of the solution, and your staff will need training as well as a go-to person on your team that they can contact with questions. Designating a subject-matter expert in your organization to perform these responsibilities and act as a liaison between the chosen vendor and your staff is a best practice that should be adopted early in your search process.
The good news is that cloud-based solutions reduce the burden of management and maintenance. When your software is in the cloud, it doesn’t need space on the computers or servers in your business. Bug fixes, security patches, and updates happen automatically, often without any interruption in access. And field staff can access cloud solutions from a jobsite via their smartphone or tablet, so they will always have the most up-to-date information.
Where Do You Grow From Here?
Businesses grow and contract, develop new service arms, or eliminate lines that are no longer profitable. Some changes come quickly with little notice, but most business owners know where they want to go and how they want to get there. Keep those plans in mind when evaluating software solutions, and make sure the software you choose can grow with you. Solutions you implement today need to be able handle the kind of scale you expect in 5–10 years as well as the scope of work you want to do.