Business owners get to make executive decisions. It's one of the perks of the job. However, acting unilaterally when buying software can be a risky move. Because new technology affects the entire team, the entire team (or at least its key members) should have input on the choice. And while it may be impossible to please everyone, it's possible to come close.
Certain kinds of new business software (or upgrades) may appear to be no-brainers, but you'd be surprised. Managers may see a lot of bells and whistles in a just-released product, but few useful features. You also have to consider the software's compatibility with your company's other applications.
So begin by gathering feedback from your management team. In particular, note which features are "must haves" and which ones are "just wants." Then, work with your IT team and financial departments (or advisors) to target the right software within a specific budgetary range.
Even if your managers agree on a product, the process isn't over. Although giving lower-level employees a say in the software selection process might seem to create more problems than it solves, they'll be using it too. So lay the groundwork for a smooth implementation by hearing their thoughts as well.
As you do so, try to assuage any fear or confusion about the prospective new software. Typically effective moves include:
- Announcing which company system (or systems) will be affected,
- Explaining your strategic objectives for adding or changing software, and
- Keeping staff regularly updated on the effort's progress.
This approach can make employees feel like they're part of the initiative and help foster more rapid buy-in.
At Mowery & Schoenfeld, we have found it difficult at times to gain consensus on changing our business software. Although the change may have long run benefits, accountants are generally resistant to change. In order to make a change in software, we have to have a strong case for moving forward.
A smart buy
Whether shopping for holidays or buying a mission-critical business software, everyone wants to make a smart buy. Be sure to set a budget and engage in a well thought-out procurement process to ensure a smart buy.