How to choose the best software

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When purchasing any computer software or hardware you should plan for the future, so base your decisions on what you would like your business to be doing five or ten years from now, not what you are doing today.

Establish a “must have” and “nice to have” list
Create a list of features you’d like to have and separate it into two categories — “must have” and “nice to have”.
Your “must have” list should be short, and outline the features that are absolutely necessary for your business. 

The “nice to have” list can be much broader, and features should be listed in order of importance, encompassing all of the capabilities that will make running your business easier. Here are some general questions to ask yourself:
• What are your reasons for buying it?
• Will it save time?
• Will I have just one Integrated software package? Who is going to run and maintain it?

• What support is provided?
• In what format do you need to access the information produced by the software?
• Can I remotely access data?

• Who needs to access the software and the data produced by the software?
• How many people can access the data at once?
• Data storage devices — how much data needs to be stored?

• Will those needs change over a 12, 24 and 36 month period?
• Where will data be accessed? Locally? Remotely Or both?
• How will data be accessible if there is a disaster?
• What will the back-up source be?

Clarify your budget
Set a budget and allow for other expenses such as an upgrade to your additional hardware. And also consider whether you will be able to use the device out of the box? Or will it require customisation? What are the maintenance expenses?

Reduce your options
Now that you have your “must have” and “nice to have” lists and a budget, it’s time to reduce your options. Go through your product list and eliminate items that lack features, and come up with two or three products that are a good fit by looking for:
• High quality customer support
• A brand with a solid track record
• A brand that has a broad base of users

Evaluate the options
From the remaining options, determine which products deliver the most features from your “nice to have” list. Are there add-ons you can purchase at a later date as you need them?

Choose your finalists
Now that you have just a handful of products left to evaluate, it’s time to see them in action. If possible, book a demonstration. Here are some general questions to ask yourself:
• Are there any ongoing costs?
• How simple is the software to set up?
• Does it come with hard copy manuals?
• What operating system does it work with?
• How secure is my data?

Get feedback from your team
If you have staff who will be using the software, now is a great time to get their feedback. This will also help when it comes to implementing the new software — if you have asked for their feedback early on, they will be much more receptive to change.

Plan the transition
To avoid issues and downtime, take time to plan the transition to the new software. Steps for implementation success include:
• Try to avoid implementing new software during your busy times
• Allow for system redundancy to ensure that none of your data is lost
during the transition
• Don’t be afraid to ask for support

• Article provided by Constructor Software. www.constructor.com.au