How to Invest in the Right Software for Your Industry
Running your own business requires a lot of planning, organizing, and prioritizing. Back in the old days, you’d have to use a paper calendar and a lengthy to-do list on a yellow notepad to keep track of all of the day’s tasks. But in the digital age, business management is a different story. In many ways, it’s more complicated to grow your business in the digital world, but there are also plenty of tools tailored to your very industry that are ready to help you do everything from running your payroll to improving workflow efficiency.
But with a sea of tech tools on the market, how do you choose what’s right for you? Use these tips to discover some industry-specific tools that could help your business, and learn how you can properly vet software tools for your business.
Before you commit to any new software additions, use your local network to find out if any other leaders in your industry are using tools that are working for them. Many industries have online forum communities that foster dialogue between business owners and experts. With a quick search online, you could find an engineering and technology forum, a hotel management group, or a restaurant management community. Don’t be afraid to source answers from the people who know your industry best.
Read Reviews and Compare
Maybe you have an idea of the product you want to test out. That’s great! When a product or service claims to solve all of our pain points, it’s tempting to say “sign me UP” and pay into a contracted service agreement as soon as possible. But many of these programs require hefty subscription fees and tough-to-break contracts so you may want to do some research before signing on any dotted lines.
Start by reading some reviews of the product, considering both the positive and negative ones. If other products do the same thing, you may also want to look at some comparison charts to help you weigh the pros and cons of each—check out this professional tax software comparison chart for example.
Take Advantage of Free Trials
Many software programs and services offer free trials that you should definitely take advantage of. Many free CRM trials even let you upload your customer data, integrate your invoicing tools, and get the support of a sales representative to help you build your platform with best practices in mind. This may sound time-consuming, but this extra step will help you evaluate how the product helps your business, and if the investment is right for your business.
Make Sure Everything is Integrated
The beauty of software and technology is that there’s something for just about every one of your business needs. But where it can get chaotic is when you have all of your eggs in different baskets, so to speak. Your invoices are one platform, customer contact information on another, and documented processes and procedures on yet another program. Remember: these tools are designed to help you and make your life easier, not complicate things. Therefore, it is essential that you integrate your apps to keep your workflow consistent.
And in order to integrate, you must ensure that they are integratable. Asking this simple question can help you avoid switching programs, processes, and struggling with inconsistent data that may derail your day-to-day workflow.
Implement Strong Training Practices
Not even the best app can solve your business’ biggest issues if you don’t train your staff properly. In order to make sure the tool is functioning as it’s supposed to, it’s important to make sure all of your staff is trained consistently. If one person is utilizing the program one way, and another person is doing something completely different, it’s only going to worsen any pain points your organization is experiencing. Try to train staff all on the same day to help make sure everyone is on the same page. This will help your staff adapt easier to the new process and increase the ROI of your new product.
With the right tools at your disposal, your business operations can drastically improve. But in order to find products that do just that, simply follow these steps, and you’re sure to find tools designed to accelerate your cash flow.