The 4 Key Questions
There’s loads of software for small business. It’s easy to pick up packages in a computer store and find the words written somewhere on the back. So it must be right for every small business – right?
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Of course not. Small businesses are as different from one another as they are from big businesses. Some are technically savvy. Others hardly know how to send an email. Some have highly advanced integrated networked systems; others have a singe PC running Windows 98. Here are 4 key questions that should be answered before any software purchase:
Q1– what do they want to do?
It’s the required function that should guide the selection of the software – not the availability of the software. If they want to write a few letters then it’s reasonable to buy a word processor – but it doesn’t have to be the industry standard package (unless files are going to be exchanged).
Q2 – who’s going to use the software?
If the user is already computer literate and the package is reasonably generic than this may not be an issue. However if it’s an unusual package or if the user is not computer literate then problems will arise if there isn’t sufficient support. Even for seemingly generic packages there can be a long transition period. Many small companies have run into difficulty changing from one accounts package to another.
Q3 – how often will it be used?
If a company wanted to calculate a series of (not too difficult) equations then the obvious first choice is a spreadsheet. However, some people would find it much easer to use a calculator and a piece of paper. If the job occurs only infrequent than the calculator may be the better choice. There’s little point is training people to use a complex package if it’s only going to be used a few times a year.
Q4 – is there a specification?
I know this is difficult for a small company but it’s essential if the right choice is going to be made. It doesn’t have to be a long and complex process. The main criteria can be obtained from the role that the software will play within the company.
For example – for an accounts package:
- Will it need to calculate value added tax?
- Will it need to maintain stock levels?
- Will it be used for payroll?
- Will it have to record foreign currency transactions?
- How many users?
These are essential questions and it’s worthwhile spending the time to get the answers before spending money. The trouble is – if no one in the company has experience of the package then they may not know what questions to ask. That’s why it’s important for owner/managers to read all they can about the possible software choices and their features before they make their final selection.
Hope this post will help you choose the right software for small business !