Business tools can play an important role in the success of an organization. Too often companies spend a lot of time and money acquiring software applications and never see the associated ROI. Learning to maximize the gains that can be achieved while containing cost is the trick to getting there.
Pay only for what you need. The hurdle that gains must clear in the ROI equation is the denominator…cost. Are you buying modules or services that aren’t needed Day 1 but would be nice to have “down the road” (i.e. the predictive analytics module or extra licenses)? Are you driving up the price with an exhaustive RFP wish list? Some companies, in an effort to find out all that a vendor can offer, will ask about additional functionality that will cause the bid to come in higher than it needs to be. Did you ask if updates are real-time and if the tool is integrated with your niche order processing system? You just increased the cost. Make sure you clearly state the scenarios that you would like to see priced. Vendors will assume you need the fully loaded model and cover their costs with pricing that reflects an oversized deliverable.
Get trained. A good vendor will be more than just a software provider. They will also provide the training and support you need to excel in your execution. When searching for the right vendor, ask if the company has a User Community with Conferences, Webinars, and Consultants familiar with your specific industry needs as well as a Help Desk. Take advantage of these additional resources to get the most out of investment.
If you don’t have time to use new toys, hire someone. Did you buy a new application that isn’t as intuitive as you would have hoped? Do you have trouble finding the time to learn it and use it? Applications that are not utilized will never generate a return. If you really would benefit from the new tool but cannot add to your current responsibilities, hire someone. If a new employee is not in the budget, find an internal, technically savvy resource with bandwidth that can be assigned. Submit requests and direct the use of the tool without having to push the buttons.
Stay Current with the latest update features. When updates are rolled out, features that can help improve workflow can go unnoticed and unused. Take the time to learn about the latest release. Request additional training on new features and functions. This is also a good time to ask those things that you have always wanted to know on existing functionality.
Improper Use Can Do More Harm than Good. With great power, comes great responsibility. Having access to your data for the first time is both exciting and dangerous. Without a proper understanding of the underlying data structure, the relationship between data elements and how the tool works to get you the answers you need… you can get a bad answers fast. Have an expert validate your first few queries and reports to ensure that what you have produced is what you really wanted to see.
Garbage in/Garbage out. What are you feeding your database or application? Are you manually entering data that can have errors and typos? Are source systems passing consistently formatted data? Take the time to perform periodic quality control checks on the underlying data that resides in your application so that you can rely on the resulting reports generated.
Customize for Greater Efficiency. Most never change the default settings in everyday applications. However, taking the time to customize little things can increase efficiency and add up to many saved hours over time. Does your “Save as” function default to the route directory instead of where you store the majority of your work? Take the time to change it instead of having to find that directory every time, multiple times, per day.
Personalized settings, reports and dashboards can have a huge impact.
Realizing the full potential of your technology purchase requires finding the time to use it and learning all that it can do. Get trained and stay current. Ensure quality input in order to receive the desired output and don’t pay for more than you need. These basic premises will establish the foundation needed for optimal gains and an achievable return on your investment.
Juiced Technologies offers big business solutions that small businesses can afford. To learn more visit: www.juicedtech.com