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Looking for your next business app? Ask these questions to find the right tool for you.

There are thousands of apps that can make you and your business more efficient and effective. Here are some tips on how to choose the right one for you.

There are over 380 software categories listed on SoftwareAdvice.com, and within a single category, there can be over 200 software vendors!!

Yikes, that is a lot! How do you find the right fit for your business?

The process I use to find the best systems for my clients enables us to:

  1. get clear on what you need and
  2. make "apples-to-apples" comparisons using a well-defined set of decision criteria.

I'll highlight the key four steps in my process in this rest of the post and in my free Small Business Software Selection Guide. If you are looking for help in finding the right tool for your business -- let's chat -- I would be happy to assist you in picking and integrating your systems. If you are more of a DIY person, use the remaining paragraphs as a guide for your software selection process.

Step 1: Understand your needs:

Having a clear picture of what you need is KEY to finding a great fit! These questions help clarify your needs for the short-term and long-term:

  • Required (Short-term) Features and Functions: What do you need the software to do now? What day-to-day frustrations in your business are you looking to resolve?
  • Anticipated (Long-term) Features and Functions: How could those short-term needs change based on your goals for the upcoming weeks, months, and years?

Step 2: Research:

Once you know what is required, it's time to start research. When I do preliminary research, I compare each system on how it meets the needs. In addition, I always compare potential systems on the following:

  • Integrations and Customizations: What other software and systems do you use in your business that need to "talk" to this one?
  • Data Import and Export: How do you get data in (and out) of the new system?
  • Documentation, Customer Service, and Support: What support is available? How do you access that support?
  • Implementation: What are the steps in the software onboarding process? How long does it take for a new business to be set up with this system?
  • Cost: What are the different packages available? What contract is the best fit for your business? What are the startup costs? What are the on-going costs? What are the support costs? What is the minimum contract duration? What is the cancellation policy?

When it comes to research, I recommend that you cast a wide net to start and then narrow down your choices. You can never choose an option you don't consider -- so I take the preliminary research seriously! [If you are doing this DIY, I recommend you do the same.]

Step 3: Demos:

I use my research to narrow down the choices and build a table to compare the most promising options. Next, I arrange demos (and free trials, if available) to learn more about each of those most promising options.

After each demo, I make sure to update the table and debrief with my clients. With that information, my clients and I can compare all of the options on the most important factor:

  • Usability and Fit: Does this tool have your required features? Does it have your anticipated features? Would you (and your staff) feel comfortable and enjoy using this tool? Do you intuitively understand the interface, reports and how the tool works? Does the experience of interacting with the tool meet your expectations? Are you excited to use this tool? Is it clear how this new system will save you time?

Step 4: Selection:

Using the updated comparison table, we can pick "the one" and start the implementation process. Exciting!

So that is an overview of the steps that I take to match new software systems to my client's needs.

Are you looking to make your business more efficient? Let me be your Ally! I would be happy to connect you with the time-saving software and personalized systems you need to add more clients, introduce new services, or both!

photo of Ada Barlatt, Ph.D., P. Eng.
Author : Ada Barlatt, Ph.D., P. Eng.
Hi there! My name is Dr. Ada, and I'm your cheerful OperationsAlly! I help organizations find meaningful and bottom-line boosting insights in their email marketing data. By adding my analytics skills to your team, you'll receive a new perspective on your data that allows you to provide better customer service and see a real increase in sales. Learn more about Ada.

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