Running a small to medium-sized business requires a sound business plan and a good sense of timing. This timing can guide business owners on when they should leave or enter a new market, expand its production capacity, or explore moving into a bigger office space.
One area of business that companies frequently outgrow is their software solutions. Many firms grow quickly in their early stages and they continue to cobble together solutions that don’t fit their current or future needs. It’s important to recognise when it’s the time for a complete overhaul. Here’s seven red flags that management and IT should be aware of to let them know when they’re about to outgrow their software:
- Data is Difficult to Access
Running a successful company in 2015 and beyond means giving employees and customers access to information in real time. If your technology solutions hinder your company’s ability to grab/distribute/share the data they need, then you’ll fall behind competitors. Newer cloud-based tech solutions allow data to flow freely across geographic, operating system, or device (mobile or desktop) barriers.
- Simple Customisation of the Solution Isn’t Simple
You run a dynamic business and have to adjust to customer preferences and market shifts quickly. Adjusting your focus often requires quick changes to your software solutions. If making simple changes is exceedingly difficult and costly, then you need a more nimble solution. Modern solutions are easy to operate for the user as they are eminently customisable on the back end. You need the power to make changes with just a few clicks, so you can move forward and focus on revenue, not technology changes.
- Department Leaders are Complaining
Listen to your department heads’ complaints about the software solutions. If everyone from accounting to marketing says your solution is outdated and inefficient, then you have to take notice. Proactively encourage department heads to weigh in on their experiences with your solutions so you can make changes quickly. Training and support for new solutions requires time and money, but if the old solution is a bottleneck, then it has to go.
- You Can’t be a Good Sharer
The flow of information largely determines the success of many businesses. Marketing must get new specs from engineering, and then pass it along to sales and customer service in a different form, who then relays it in language the end customer can understand. In order to create this flow, you need interoperability between systems, for example a CRM system that also includes content from the document management solution. The modern SMB often has contract and remote workers that are crucial to the business operations. Interoperability ensures data can come from these various sources and be easily collected and consumed.
- Mobile isn’t Possible
Companies with restrictive policies on the usage of mobile devices (even personal devices) are living in a different era. Mobile access is essential, both for internal staff and the needs of external customers. Employees expect the instant accessibility of information to extend to their mobile devices. Solutions that don’t offer mobile connectivity should be swiftly replaced. SMB’s need seamless experiences, where information can move from mobile to desktop, to the cloud, and back again.
- No Collaboration
The Millennial generation entering the workforce is preprogrammed for collaborative thinking. They used Google Docs in college, and are familiar with technologies that allow them to share their thoughts quickly. This is a market shift in attitudes among employees, and one that is paying off in terms of increased productivity. Modern software solutions enable users to quickly share their work with others and to form groups so projects can be tackled from multiple perspectives. Solutions that operate as siloes are no longer sufficient for companies that want multiple departments to work together.
- Downtime is frequent and disastrous
Frequent downtime due to glitches or the need for repairs is a clear sign you’ve outgrown an antiquated solution. A slow or non-customisable platform can hold at least some value, but downtime is an immediate deal breaker that kills productivity. If the downtime problems are not easily solved, then you need to look for a better solution, one with market-proven reliability.
What about cost? While removing an outdated solution and installing a new one certainly requires some time and money, the long-term benefits can be profound. If you feel your solutions exhibit several of these seven signs of being seriously “outgrown” then it’s time to invest and move towards more modern solutions.
Doug Wilson, managing partner of custom software service, Breakthrough Technologies
Image source: Shutterstock/TechnoVectors