Research and Deduction
This post is part two of a three part series on how to select the right POS & Business Management Software for your business. The second step is selecting the right software vendor for your company and considerations for hardware which we will be discussing today.
After you’ve thoroughly analyzed your business processes, made your wants and needs list, and thought about where your company will be in 5-10 years, it’s time to start looking at potential software programs. Here are some steps to guide you through researching solutions, and the process of elimination:
Make a List & Check It Twice
To start, you’ll need to make a list of potential software vendors you want to learn more about. A good place to start is by contacting any trade associations you belong to and get the names of software vendors that have exhibited/presented to the association. Business colleagues are another great resource when it comes to finding potential software vendors. They can help you understand the pros and cons of the software vendor they chose and give insight on how to have a smooth transition.
Research & Investigate
With your list of possible software candidates in hand, the next step is to find out more about how these programs meet your needs. The best place to start is the vendor’s website. Many software vendors will provide a basic software demo video on their website. Take a few minutes to watch any available pre-recorded software demos or webinars and get a feel for how the software looks and ease of use. After you’ve reviewed the vendor’s website and any provided video demos it’s time to contact the vendor to learn more!
Typically a software vendor will have an option to request a personalized or more in-depth demo from their website. If this option is not available you may need to locate their contact information on their website and call to schedule a demo.
Before your scheduled demo, make sure to collaborate with other key players in your company and write out any specific processes you want to see or questions you want answered. Make sure to inform the vendor of the specific processes you want to see and the questions you have at the very beginning of the demo, this way the demo can be geared toward what interests you most.
Here are some specifics to consider when speaking to the software vendor:
- You want to make sure you’re working with a provider that knows your industry, your products and your distribution channels.
- Be sure the company can show you that inventory is in real-time across ALL stock sites and have them show you the specific inventory features that are important to your company.
- Serial number and warranty tracking is another essential component for our industry as it can provide additional profits to your business.
- You should also look for software that is completely integrated through the General Ledger and not simply integrated with a third party software package.
Before the demo is over, make sure to ask what a typical implementation timeline looks like and what hardware updates may be necessary. Making sure you have the necessary resources and time to complete the implementation successfully is crucial. Rushing the implementation of a new software program is a critical error, so make a plan on how you can successfully manage the implementation and your regular work responsibilities. We’ll discuss this in more detail in the third installment of this blog series.
Lastly, you need to consider possible hardware costs and updates required for the system to run optimally in your business. Many owners make the mistake of forgetting all about hardware expenses or not considering them until after the software is purchased. Software vendors should be able to recommend hardware requirements without forcing you to purchase hardware from them. During the hardware evaluation process, make sure the provider asks you about any plans for business expansion as this may change the hardware recommendations they provide you.
Ultimately, always be thorough about shopping for your software program and hardware. Never rush the process and always ask questions!
The last installment of our three part series on how to select the right business management software will discuss the software implementation process and what it means for your business.