Is your company growing? Congratulations! Enjoy the steady revenue, increasing customer base, improved loyalty, and enhanced reputation. But now is also the perfect time to reevaluate some of the things you used to start your business.
For example, do you need to hire more HR professionals to bring on additional staff and upgrade your benefits program? Will your current facility support your growing business? What about your marketing strategy – does it make sense to increase the budget to reach more customers?
Finally, how’s your software? Are your employees less productive than you expect them to be? Do they avoid using certain programs that are too cumbersome? Are they getting complaints from customers? Maybe these little problems could be managed until now. But your business growth may require software growth as well.
Fortunately, there are many solutions available, including adjustments to your current software, different applications that you can buy off-the-shelf, or having custom software developed. With growth comes options and, depending on your requirements, you may want to choose an outsourced provider in Latin America, Eastern Europe, Asia, the Middle East, or other world regions, to create software specifically for your company’s needs.
Signs That You’ve Outgrown Software
You’re using spreadsheets to track important data. Excel or other spreadsheet applications may serve very well when you’re first starting out to track things like employee data or inventory information. But, sooner or later you’ll need to switch to a more robust solution for additional functionality.
You’re getting customer complaints. Are you losing orders or taking too long to respond to customer care requests? Again, a few misunderstandings here or there might be okay and understandable in the beginning. But, once your company gets off the ground, you have a reputation to protect and lots of unhappy customers can quickly tarnish it.
Employees feel awash in administrative tasks. Are staff members complaining about spending too much time with data entry and other administrative tasks? If so, it means they’re not spending enough time on the critical tasks that will really push your company to the next level. It also means they’re more likely to be unhappy in their positions and eventually leave.
Productivity is lagging. Smart businesses have key performance indicators (KPIs) that should be met for the highest possible productivity. If these numbers aren’t being met, it might not be because employees are slow. It might be that your software is slow. As you grow, you’ll be trying to accomplish even more, but you’ll continue to struggle if your technology is dragging workers down.
Staffers avoid using certain applications. They might not even tell you they’re doing this, so it’s important to ask. Use an anonymous survey if you need to in order to find out how employees really use (or don’t use) software. If they’re not using the right tools, you’re not getting the right reports, and so on in a downward spiral that can impede your success more severely the more you grow.
What to Do Next
First things first. Evaluate your current situation. You can use the survey method mentioned above or call in an IT specialist to perform an assessment. Your in-house IT team could probably do this, but it might be helpful to have an objective outside opinion.
Once you understand the problems that need to be solved, create a list of goals. They may include reducing data entry time, increasing the speed of response to customers, having easily accessible inventory information, or gaining flexibility in building reports. Be as specific as possible, such as the percentage of time you’d like to cut from data entry tasks or responding to customers.
Now you can explore the options. First, ask your internal IT team or an outsourced vendor if your current software could be adjusted to meet your needs. If not, begin to explore standard off-the-shelf software products. Maybe transferring your Excel spreadsheet to an ERP application could do the trick.
If these solutions won’t help, seek out custom software development assistance. If your IT team has the skills and bandwidth to create bespoke applications, great. They already know your company well and will be able to develop the software to match.
Companies that don’t have internal IT assistance available for this task should consider outsourcing the job. Don’t dismiss this option due to price. Outsourcing software development can actually be cost-effective in the long run, given that you won’t have to spend money on new software every few years. Additionally, your internal IT department can focus on more critical, revenue-generating or -supporting tasks.
When seeking an outsourced vendor, do consider the possibility of looking in regions outside your own. For example, if you’re in the U.S., Latin American software developers work similar hours and may be much more cost-effective than U.S. firms.
When your business grows, don’t forget to reevaluate the systems you put in place when you first started, as they may no longer suit your needs. In particular, be sure to assess the state of your software, which is the foundation of so many aspects of your company’s activities. Software that no longer meets your needs isn’t a sign of failure, but rather a sign that you’re ready for the next step.