One of the biggest hurdles that a company faces when they realize they need a business management solution is deciding what excatly it is that they need. With so many options on the market, it's easy to be distracted by flashy features that may look cool, but don't really have any use for your business.
Too often, when a contractor is looking for a CRM (Customer Relationship Management software), the owner just sends one of their managers out to find something that might be a good fit. They go through a demo with a few different providers, and then make their decision based on anything from price to a neat tool that it offers.
Choosing a new piece of software is a huge step for any company, especially if you have never done anything on this scale before. As you start down this path, there will be challenges, some expected, and some not. If your company is going to get the most out of this venture, you will first and foremost, need to have a definition for what success looks like. Basically, in a year from now, how will you MEASURE whether you made the right decision, or not?
Before you start looking for a software solution, it’s important to grab your team together and nail down what they are looking for. Whether you are a small “mom & pop” operation or a large business with multiple department heads, it’s important for your team to decide what’s important BEFORE you go shopping for software. This way, you ask the right questions during the demo, and you can make your ultimate decision based on facts, rather than a slick sales representative, or a fancy interface alone.
Here are my top 5 recommendations for your team to go over:
1. What are the current problems you need solutions for?
Resist the urge to look for solutions to vague problems like “The sales team needs to have an awesome estimate builder!”, and instead look for a specific problem you need to overcome like “Our sales team struggles to write profitable estimates based on our material costs. We need a system that will allow them to pull prices from our supplier.”
2. Determine what features a potential CRM HAS to have.
What are the deal-breakers for your organization? These are the features that your team has decided are so important that making the jump to new software is just not worth doing if you can’t get these benefits. (e.g. The software HAS to allow our field reps to create a contract on the iPads that we equipped them with)
3. Determine what features would be NICE to have in a potential CRM.
Create a dream list of what you would LIKE for it to do. The items on this list shouldn’t be used as the sole reason for selecting a piece of software; but they may be used to tip the scale between two final selections. (e.g. We would love it if our sales team could capture a contract signature on their iPad through the software)
4. Don’t focus on one part of your organization.
It can be tempting to focus on just one department during this process, but if your entire company is going to be using the software, ALL departments should have some input on what they need before you start shopping The production department will have different challenges than the accounting department and sales department, and no one is more important than the other.
5. Prioritize these things down to a top 5 list and then look for the software solution that offers the best answer to the most things on your list.
Going into a decision as complex as selecting what you are going to use to run your company can be overwhelming and take time as your team wraps their heads around new terms and functionality. The last thing you want to do is to REDO everything 6 months or a year later after realizing you picked the wrong option. With these steps, you can ensure you make the right decision...the first time.
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