The non-tech guide to choosing the right software solution
“The sheer number of software solutions available for businesses, combined with rapid technological innovation, can make the choice extremely difficult. Although there is something to suit virtually every need, it’s important for businesses to take the time to ensure they choose solutions that not only fulfil those needs, but also work together so that decision makers have a cohesive and comprehensive picture of the business at all times,” says Andrew Bourne, Zoho’s Country Manager for the African region.
He offers a few tips for non-techies to choose the right software solution for their specific needs:
■ Consider the bigger picture: “Start by clearly defining your business software needs, as well as prioritising the goals that these tools need to help you achieve. The right software solutions streamline operations and increase efficiencies in a logical, easy-to-use way,” Bourne says, “and allow the user to focus on their work, not on the application.”
■ Prioritise privacy: For the most part, the democratisation of technology is a good thing. But it does raise concerns about safety and, particularly, privacy. As technology users, we are all aware of basic online security, but we should be demanding far more of our software solutions to ensure our data is secure and private, including that they are not using our data to fund an ad-revenue model. A number of privacy factors, including data protection, file encryption and cloud security, should be taken into consideration and discussed with your software provider to ensure a solution that guarantees privacy at the highest level.
■ Easy integration: Put simply, integration refers to the way in which various software applications speak to each other. Software solutions should integrate in a seamless way to help things run smoothly, and, by extension, improve productivity by speeding up the flow of information through departments.
“When selecting a suite of software products, ask if it integrates well with your other existing IT tools and solutions. Be open to the fact you may need to use a new type of software to make the integration seamless and help improve the efficiency of the whole technology ecosystem. Ensure your software scales as the business does, and that it’s easy enough to ‘link’ various systems and functions,” Bourne advises.
■ The right price: The best solution at the most competitive price is always the most desirable way to go, but it really does pay to ensure you are getting value for money, and not just opting for the brand you have always used, or know best.
“Get comparative quotes, ask about local pricing in local currency, compare functionality offered with the features you have to have, ask for demos and get the people who are going to use the software to test it out – not just the person making the buying decision. This way you can ensure you settle on a solution that suits your needs, as much as it does your budget,” Bourne concludes.
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