Langley Foxall
Anthony Fowler

Which door will you choose? 3 paths to choosing a software solution.

All business rely on software to perform their day to day tasks, some have embraced technology and are wholly reliant, some are transitioning to digital, and some are just discovering how software and digital can improve the way they operate.

Every business should analyse their processes regularly to ensure they're being optimal.

Business owners will typically identify that there are holes in their operations and go hunting for solutions, whether they seek guidance on systems from people they know, trusted advisors and employees or they do their own research through google, either way, they will find themselves looking at the features and benefits of SaaS products.

A large percentage of businesses use these off the shelf software solutions. For the majority of companies it suffices their needs, for some, however, it doesn't hit all of their requirements, they need more features or functions to execute their processes. This is where one of three things happen:

Path One - Purchase more SaaS to handle the missing stages of the end to end process.

Its stage 1 of trying to get your operational processes on point, you've done your research or been pointed in a direction towards a certain piece of SaaS - you see the benefit of using software to handle very specific parts of your operation.

Purchasing more SaaS is a natural thing to explore, you already pay a nominal fee for your existing software so why not get more? The problems arise when you're using more and more SaaS to complete all your tasks.

Typically the main issues are data silos, repeat data entry, missed tasks or bottlenecks. None of which are conducive to an efficient business.

Path Two - Integrate SaaS together will relatively minor custom development.

Integrating SaaS together can be tricky or in some cases impossible, you still have many operations being handled across multiple software but now you're linking some of that data together, passing it between systems and reducing your data entry and data silos. This can lead to better comms and ensuring your pushing customers through the pipeline effectively.

Issues can arise with this many systems being run at one time - if one is updated, discontinued or breaks then you have a broken link in the chain that is reliant on either the provider's development team or the developers you employed to link them together. Problems like this are sometimes referred to as straw bridges.

Recurring costs, especially as your business grows can get into scary numbers, but you're now tied in to using this solution and pursing path 3 may be financially an issue.

Path 3 - Pursue fully custom development of operational software.

I'm biased towards custom software, we've been doing it for businesses for years and it yields the best results - assuming the prep work has been done and the opportunities and benefits have been identified correctly. Having your own custom-built software is akin to having a tailored suit made, it's more expensive than renting but it fits you perfectly and you get to keep it.

As a business, you can identify your unique processes, refine them and have software to execute everything the way you want. No more workarounds or reliance on individuals talent to make up the shortfalls, no more high recurring costs and you can make changes or additions at your pleasure.

This path has the highest short-term cost and takes a lot of work and involvement but it will yield the best results, and if your planning on selling your business at any point then this is not only classed as an asset but it also eases the handover thus increasing intrinsic value.

Next Time:
My next instalment focuses on assessing your business to better identify what stage you might be at and what the best solution might be going forward.

It's important to assess what you currently have, what you want to do, and whether a custom solution is right for your business.

Ultimately it comes down to whether or not you can do the following and how best to execute that:

Increase

Productivity
Efficiency
Communication
Team collaboration

Decrease

Training times
Recurring software costs
Administration

Until next time.