Dear C-Level, Stop Choosing the Wrong B2B Software
Choosing software for enterprise is a daunting task — it doesn’t matter if we are talking CRM, HCM, ERP or any other system.
The right solution will streamline operations, improve business intelligence and skyrocket employee productivity. But what happens when you choose the wrong vendor or ignore onboarding? Poor adoption leads to wasted time, money and resources.
In the last five years, enterprise software has become a buffet affair. With so many options available, leadership is challenged to make sharp, informed decisions regarding digital investments. A platform that is a goldmine for one company might not be effective in serving another.
So before purchasing B2B software, be sure to evaluate the following features and considerations to ensure the best possible fit. Here is how to choose software.
Examine Your Organization’s Pain Points
No two organizations are exactly the same. This fact is both what differentiates you from your competition and what makes choosing a new software system difficult. The very first step to finding the right solution is to define your unique needs.
What pain points do your employees encounter on a regular basis? Are your internal processes bloated? Where do your sales funnel lack efficiency? Identify any obstacles where you feel the right software could help. Be sure to include multiple perspectives in this conversation; consult with various departments and anyone who might use the software.
Fine Tune Operations
Purchasing and implementing a new system is not just a technical change, it is an opportunity to optimize the way your company performs. If a CRM is in the pipeline, examine your sales funnel. Where are your sales reps wasting time? Shopping for B2B software with this mindset allows the solution to be more than just a band-aid.
Consider Organizational Growth and Plan for a Scalable Solution
Before choosing software, consider your business projections for the upcoming period. How much growth can your company expect in the coming years? Your software shouldn’t be something you grow out of. Ideally, it should scale with your business needs.
Some vendors tailor their solution to small or midsize businesses, and often won’t perform well at higher usage. Fail to take this into consideration and in a couple months or years, you will be stuck with a system that no longer serves you. After spending excessive time and resources choosing software and adopting the technology — you’ll be back at square one.
Do Not Ignore Security
Storing business information on a digital platform is comparable to leaving valuables in a safe — both can become a target if security measures are overlooked. Whether you are shopping for an ERP, a CRM or even communication software, digital safety should be a consideration when choosing software.
Large online transactions tend to attract cybercriminals, as does the less obvious intellectual property of customers and employees. In fact, 72% of security experts include customer data in a list of top concerns, according to ERP Security Survey 2017. Software security, particularly for ERPs, should be a primary concern for any IT leader implementing a new system. Keep this parameter in mind during the shopping and vetting stage.
It is also helpful to designate an individual who is responsible for maintaining the security of the system once it is up and running. Many organizations are carving out entirely new roles — such chief information security officers — to serve this very function.
Involve Future Users in the Discussion
Determine who will be relying heavily on this system and talk to them before choosing the software. Don’t assume you know what they are going to say. Are you buying a new recruiting software? Sit down with your HR team and ask about their current processes, bottlenecks and pain points. You might learn some valuable information that will help you narrow down the solution.
Define Software Needs and Wants
Once you have a solid grasp on your unique business needs, it is time to start making a list of must-have features. This will require some technical knowledge of current solutions and offerings, and how these can drive your business goals. For example, one common goal with new software is to transition to a paperless workplace. If this is the case, you will need software that is designed to run efficiently in a paperless environment.
Be careful to differentiate what you actually need from the shiny, nice-to-have features. The best practice for this stage is to prioritize your needs into three categories: requirements (features you need), bonuses (features you want, but will survive without) and distractions (features you do not need). This will help you narrow down the search and identify what kind of platform will bring your business the highest value.
Consider these elements when choosing software needs:
One system or two?
Don’t limit yourself by preeminently deciding all your needs can and should be met using a single system. Keep in mind that the best solution may be two different platforms. Using your list of priorities, compare options that this flexibility offers.
Determine what is lost and what is gained in each situation. For example, when using one platform you will have a single database and a single source of truth. Additionally, training time will be more streamlined. Consider users’ ability to switch between the UI of each platform and compare that with the functionality gained from using separate systems.
As smartphone and tablet adoption grows, before choosing software, it is wise to consider how mobility ranks on your priority list. How your future software will look and feel on these devices will significantly affect how it is used. Allowing your employees the flexibility to check-in between meetings via mobile devices can have a large effect on workflow.
Data Data Data
Big data is a currency. When you are shopping for a new system, don’t ignore its potential to generate new and interesting analytical insights. User data collected within the system can then be used to track employee performance, process efficiency and track training speed.
If the software itself does not have internal analytics, consider connecting an external platform. Ensure that any software you consider is compatible with processes and programs you depend on. This step might eliminate a number of vendors.
Reports are a must-have in any large organization. They are essential for every department from accounting to production management. Static reports are OK, but great systems enable customized reports that can be built and edited according to your needs.
Nail Down Your Budget
You have now drafted the ultimate wishlist, but turning this dream into reality requires cold, hard cash. To avoid wasting time, only start researching solutions after you know exactly what your organization has budgeted for. Understanding how your budget matches up with your functionality needs will help streamline discussions with software providers. Once you do start shopping, make sure to get all quotes in writing.
Don’t Forget to Budget for Onboarding
Without appropriate software training, your software implementation is doomed to fail. It is crucial to anticipate and plan for this process long before the system is unveiled to your employees. Once you roll out the new system, employees will need to be brought up to speed as quickly as possible.
For enterprise companies with hundreds of employees, a Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) is a game changer. A DAP trains users on any web-based software using step-by-step instructions overlaid on the system itself. That way employees are able to learn in real-time as they perform actual tasks. Additionally, a DAP promotes self-service, allowing employees to refer back at any time to relieve support issues or knowledge gaps.
How to Choose a Software Vendor
When it comes to choosing a software vendor, there is no escaping the research process. Make sure to visit vendor websites, review software forums, inspect brochures, and attend webinars. Additionally, get feedback from peers, industry leaders or anyone who has used the software you are considering.
When choosing a software vendor, it is advised to stick with market leaders. However, invite employees who are experts in UX and technology to offer their opinion as well. Impressive logo heads are not a guarantee for anything. Sometimes successful companies make bad products.
Once you’ve identified software providers that might fit the bill, sign up for personal demos and engage in a discussion with the vendor about the platform’s specifics. Gaining a better understanding of uses and functions will help guide you to the correct decision.
Provide Continual Support for Success
Even after you have rolled out your brand new business software and conducted employee training, don’t consider the job complete. In order for a software to be truly successful and drive long-term business goals, a robust support system must be put in place.
If you acquire WalkMe’s DAP for your training needs, you are in luck! The smart layer also works to spot where users need help and preemptively offer assistance. Not only does this nearly eliminate support tickets, the insights layer allows leadership to track and optimize software usage. Just using your new software to do the same thing you did before is not enough — maximize usage by accelerating user competency.