You’ve done your research, hired a software company that knows what you need and now you have a custom software program that’s going to make your business more efficient – you’re on the right track! Now you have the opportunity to continue getting the most out of your software after it’s launched.
What YOU Can Do
One of the greatest public speakers of all time, J.F.K, once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what YOU can do for your country." This is true even beyond the literal meaning. If you want to get the most out of anything, you need to put in the effort. Here are some things you can do to reach your goal of getting the most out of your software – small, but highly impactful.
Training: I’ve heard – yes, only heard, never experienced – that when you purchase a Ferrari from the Ferrari dealership, they actually make you take driving lessons before you leave the parking lot. New software can be intimidating (like I could only imagine a Ferrari would be!) so knowledge of how your software should be used and then training your employees on how to use it can make a world of difference in terms of efficiency. You and your employees should understand how and why the system works the way it does. The best way to ensure this happens is to train all your employees once the new software is launched, then train employees as you hire them.
A great tip for getting to know a new system is to create a cheat sheet! Though frowned upon in grammar school, digital or printed cheat sheets at work can save time and help avoid mistakes. If there is a task that is common to multiple employees, write up the steps in an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure). You can even encourage your employees to write SOPs themselves! This will not only help them grow, but will also help in the long run when training new employees.
Ask for Feedback: Thinking of modifying the system? Get feedback from the people who use the system the most! Employees may have good ideas on how to improve the system & business flow. If there are many requests for changes, group them together to hand off to your provider. It’s most efficient to build a list over time and can even save you money, since one change could potentially fix other issues.
Even though we say to build a list over time, you’ll still want to keep priorities in mind. Think in terms of 1, 6, or 12 months. If something is valuable, time sensitive, or both, you’ll want to make the change sooner. If a change to the system could save one day of work a week for one person, make that change as quickly as you can to get the most value.
Look at the BIG Picture: Often, business organizations evolve over time. You may have had a system built 4 years ago, but things have changed. Every once in a while, take a step back – look at your business as a whole & how people are using the software. You may find an update to the system is worth the cost.
What Your PROVIDER Can Do
The main responsibilities your service provider can take on are ongoing maintenance and support. If you continue to maintain your investment, your investment will continue to provide value.
Data Maintenance: Over time, you will build a large customer list. Data maintenance is like an oil change for your database. Consider archiving old information. If you keep your database clean, the system will perform at optimal speed. This can even be an automated process that your service provider sets up for you, so that you never have to worry about it.
Support & Consultative Services: You’ll want to choose a service provider who is capable of providing basic helpdesk support and advising you on solutions to problems so that you and your employees can rely on them when issues arise. Besides support, your service provider can also give you documentation, like cheat sheets or SOPs, to help users with the system. They should be experts at translating “tech talk” in a way that everyone and anyone can understand.
Don’t underestimate consultative services where your provider teaches you about new technologies. Technology is ever-changing, so there will always be things to talk about!
ROI: You can and should be able to lean on your service provider when making technology decisions that cost you money! Your service provider can assist you with evaluating the long-term value of certain updates to your software system, which in turn can help you get the highest ROI (Return on Investment) possible.
Ongoing training: Finally, rely on your service provider for a training agenda and documentation on processes, whether it be once a year, 6 months, whenever. It’s never a bad thing to go over material and refresh memories to ensure continued value and efficiency.
The Bottom Line
Maintenance and ongoing support is vital to continually getting the most value from the original investment, your software program. Custom software is no dime in the bucket – it’s a big investment, but one with value that can far outweigh its cost if cared for properly. Take care of that investment and it’ll take care of your business.
JP Lessard is President of Business Software Solutions at Miles Technologies.