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Software has the potential to drive just about any business function–from marketing to project management, and in other critical processes too. Supporting functions like accounting and bookkeeping rely on software to track accounts, generate invoices, and comply with tax rules.
For example, Nando’s food chain operates approximately 250 restaurants across Australia. After analyzing their data, they realized that they had a sudden drop-off in online sales. Quickly, the company discovered that one of their food ordering processes was confusing to customers.
As a result, Nando’s implemented a combination of automated order notifications and processes, that ultimately, resolved the problem. By analyzing their current processes and implementing a new food catering software, Nando’s has seen a year-on-year growth rate of 35%.
So, the value of software for businesses can be immense and can be used to expand capabilities, to boost processes, and support longer-term elements like strategy. If you are looking to use new software for your business, here are some important considerations to be aware of.
1. Identify Business Needs
Clarify your business needs, identify the value proposition of the software, and define the expected post-implementation gains. This will give you the business justification for the software and help you sell the upgrade or adoption to others in your organization. It will also help you track and measure the actual gains.
Take the case of cloud accounting software as an example. Businesses and startups can choose to conduct this in-house in the form of journal entries or spreadsheets, but, for a company that is growing, this will stagnate growth. A survey found that for those that do use accounting software, on average, it takes 4.8 days to close accounts, compared to 10 or more calendar days when not using software. That’s why it’s important to identify what your business needs in order to scale.
2. Choose a Vendor
Check what the software can do and compare it to your needs. For example, you might be looking for something to simplify processes, conduct targeted marketing, and enable online ordering and order tracking.
Ask the vendor how your current workflows and processes can be tweaked and optimized with the software implementation. At this stage, you’ll want to conduct due diligence as well, by looking into things like support, training, and service standards.
Sometimes, you might find that some vendors will go above and beyond to do everything they can for customers. Buffer is a great example of this. They changed their customer support roles to Happiness Heroes, Weekend Warriors, and Community Champion, forming part of their “Happiness team.”
3. Consider Who, What, and When
Consider the who, what, and when of your software’s impact on your organization so you can better prepare for it.
- When will it happen and is it optimally timed to reduce disruption?
- Who will be most impacted and what workflows and processes will be affected?
- Then, adjust your plan to minimize disruption.
4. Offer Training
Whether it’s provided by your vendor or an internal team, training is critical for facilitating successful adoption. Provide demos, documents, and manuals to support your team in adopting the new software.
Meltwater, a company that Forbes calls “Google Slayer” for conquering Google Alerts, is well known for the training of their PR software. It offers excellent training throughout its user onboarding process. Once a new user joins Meltwater, a person from their team will persistently be in contact to provide a demo on how to use their platform and get the most out of their service.
In contrast, some companies will not go out of their way to show you the ins and outs of their service, meaning that if they don’t offer training. In that case, your team may not be getting all the value that they are paying for. Plus, it’s pretty simple; if your team is taught how to use new software and coached during the process, they’ll use it. If not, then they won’t.
5. Communicate With Users
Keep lines of communication open with your users from the start. Share the business justification in step one with your team so they understand the expected gains and how it could make their jobs easier. Getting buy-ins from the start could lead to easier adoption and the efficiency gains you’re looking for.
Ryan Hoover, the founder of Product Hunt, got buy-ins from friends within his network and created an MVP in 20 minutes. Hoover used a link-sharing tool to create and invite people to share links. It wasn’t until the group grew to 170 plus users that Hoover decided to build a product. The interesting thing here is that, when Hoover built his product, he did so “in public” and got feedback from his users. That’s why it’s vital to communicate with your users.
Software implementation plans might seem involved and complex, but they can be worth the effort. With a detailed plan, your business and your teams could avoid some of the common pitfalls associated with adopting new technology, and instead experience a successful transition to your new system.
Businesses or startups might rely on software to oversee manufacturing, manage facilities, control inventory, and manage customer relationships. They can use software to support communication where the platform allows for real-time updates and whole-organization visibility.
Assign implementation advocates to champion the new software and provide on-the-spot training. Make sure these advocates have the technical ability as well as a strong rapport with the relevant team members. Lastly, sometimes by making a small change like “using a new system or process”, you can drive revenue, customer loyalty, and productivity.