BUYING BUSINESS SOFTWARE – PROBLEM SOLVING VS. SHOPPING FOR ACRONYMS
Creating and upgrading enterprise IT infrastructure can intimidate even the most seasoned executive. To make it worse, confusing jargon and acronyms fill the enterprise software
Is any of this necessary? No. If you understand and articulate what your company wants to get out of tech platforms, you can ignore this marketing fluff entirely. This article shows why problem solving clarifies the process of buying software.
First, Why Bother to Invest in Tech Infrastructure?
You can do more with less resources when you have the right infrastructure. That is the obvious answer. Most overlook the fact that your tech infrastructure directly reflects your company’s culture. Planning on pitching your company as innovative, efficient, and relevant to potential employees and clients? If this is true, you have to walk the walk so leveraging technology to get your business running smoothly becomes essential. It’s likely that you will also have a more collaborative, transparent, and pleasant operation as a result of tech upgrades.
Consider the following points when you start the process of shopping for these upgrades.
The Trouble with Acronyms
Too many executives start their search for new software by seeking out a CRM/LMS/POS/etc. that they heard solves all problems. These terms tend to confuse more than clarify matters, and should be ignored at the beginning of your software search.
Many software acronyms originated as marketing terms intended to help people understand products, but the products themselves do not adhere to some standard list of functions because they are marketed as a “CRM”. Also, people in the industry (consumers) interpret these acronyms based on what they have been told, or what the acronym means in the context of their business. In summary, if you ask 10 people what a CRM/ERP/PPM does, you may get 10 answers. These aren’t acronyms like “FBI” which stands for exactly Federal Bureau of Investigation.
You are setting yourself up for misunderstandings and frustration with software vendors if you approach the buying process from the context of ambiguously defined acronyms. You could end up looking in the wrong place for the wrong functions. Your software search should always begin with a closer analysis of the problems you need to solve.
The Real Starting Point: State the Problem (or Goal)
Your software buying process begins here: What do you want to accomplish? This could be something like, “I want an email marketing campaign for potential clients.” You can also make a list of pain points like, “I don’t like having to manually input royalties every month.”
Nobody understands your business like you do. Articulating your problems equips you to shop for software in the context of what will help you most, and cuts through a lot of salesmanship from vendors. Once ou have your lists, it’s time to start shopping.
Managing the Process Jargon and Feature Sets
Beware of marketing jargon. You’ll see a lot of “integrated, all-in-one” things, fancy “solutions”, and many verbose product descriptions. You’ll also see incredible sounding feature lists. None of this nonsense matters if it doesn’t help you achieve your outlined objectives, or if it introduces operational complexity. How can you tell? Set up a demo, and have a company show you how they can help.
Navigating Demos and Sales Pitches
Make it about you. Lay out your objectives, and have the company show you a sample of how their product helps you. Be open to suggestions for alternative approaches (vendors might see something you didn’t consider before), but make sure you see these suggestions in a demo. You are building your business on top of whatever you buy! It’s important to “see to believe” when the stakes are this high.
Shop the Competition
Companies have different styles, ideologies, and capabilities. All of these factors are important in finding the right software, so shop accordingly. This might seem tedious, but it’s a necessary step in making the right decision.
Many Products vs. “One Stop Shop”
You have multiple apps on your smartphone, and each app serves some purpose in your life. You will need multiple apps for your business as well. You may have a broad scope of goals, making it impossible to find all solutions in one place. That’s fine. Most modern platforms offer integrations, making it easier to streamline processes and share information between products.
Does the product do what you need? Can you make changes to it? Can you afford it? Can you teach someone how to use it? Yes to all? Looks like you have a winner.
Don’t get distracted by nonsense! Focus on your needs, and it will greatly simplify your software search. Please reach out to let me know how your search process goes!
Rolando De La Torre, Jr. is a co-founder of ZeeHub, a startup that creates simple, lightweight franchise management software. Prior to ZeeHub, he was Director of IT for a startup franchise brand, and graduated from Stanford University in 2009. Rolando was recently chosen as a winner of the Young Entrepreneurs in Franchising Global Competition.