Will software fix the problem?

Hey! Let’s get ‘insert name of software’ and everything will be sorted!

How many times have you heard those words or similar? Management software is marketed as the solution for sorting everything out, giving managers instant access to a plethora of data points so they can rapidly address problems.

Don’t get the wrong idea, I have no issue with a software solution. It may be exactly what you need to improve elements of how your business runs – HR, CRM, COGS, the list is endless.

However, sometimes owners and managers invest in management software in the hope that it will solve their problems. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. If you’re currently struggling to manage certain aspects of your business, it’s unlikely that the purchase of a software solution will magically sort things out!

If you’re not careful, you can spend a lot and end up with a system that doesn’t deliver what you wanted it to.

What use is a software solution if it’s not set-up, utilised and managed properly?

These considerations maybe useful the next time you or one of your team has a lightbulb moment and thinks software might be the way to go.

  • What are the minimum attributes necessary for this purchase to fulfil my requirements?
  • Is it a good match for my current needs and able to be scaled up as my business grows?
  • Is there a free trial period so I can test functionality before purchase?
  • Will I retain ownership of my own data, IP, customer details etc.?
  • Will I be able to extract my own data, IP, customer details etc. if I stop using the software?
  • How secure are the servers from hacking and other data theft?
  • What are the payment terms? Is it a flat subscription model? Does the price increase with every additional staff member, business unit etc.?
  • Will it integrate with my other management systems?
  • What kind of initial training and set-up mentoring, and coaching is included?
  • How long will it take to set up and implement? (and who will champion it?)
  • What kind of after purchase support is included and in what time zone?
  • Are software upgrades an additional expense?
  • Is the software compatible with Australian taxation requirements, legislation, currency, measurements etc.
  • Are all the features listed operational? As computing software and hardware is constantly evolving, it is surprisingly common to find out after purchase that many of the features are still at beta testing stage. In other words, you will be the ‘Guinea Pig’ used to iron out any bugs and issues before it becomes fully functional.

As with any business procurement, it’s good practice to carefully consider the ‘sales pitch’. Remember the advertising maxim, ‘the large print giveth and the small print taketh away!’

Conduct due diligence. Ask for testimonials and the contact details of other operators who have purchased the software. Conduct your own references.

A useful analogy for risk assessing management software is to approach the procurement process in a similar fashion to recruiting a new member of staff. Ask yourself, what do I need it to do, and will this solution be fit for purpose?

A final thought, if your leadership team aren’t communicating well, meeting deadlines, and delivering for each other, you might want to consider getting that sorted first. Setting up software and getting your team onboard and using it properly is challenging when you are organised. It can be a futile and expensive process otherwise. Good luck!


Ben Walter