Let me start with a caveat – this doesn’t apply to everyone, so if you are in the 1% of people who are leveraging their financial, reporting and operational systems fully then I apologise.
For the rest of us there are some very good reasons why we don’t make full use and thereby get full value out of what we’ve got.
How have I come up with this theory?
Well part of my job is to help clients choose new software and most of the time what I find is that buying a new system isn’t the issue.
So I’ve put together some of the most common reasons why you may not be getting your money’s worth and what you could do about it.
Reason 1 – not taking the updates. So many people pay a full support fee for their systems but don’t take advantage of the updates that are included. There are two problems with this; firstly you miss out on valuable features and nice to have tweeks that have been introduced and secondly it can leave you vulnerable to compromise if the security patches haven’t been applied.
Solution – Make someone responsible. Funny as it may sound, software is still often seen as a dark art and in a lot of SMEs updating seems to be left until it absolutely has to be done. I’d suggest getting someone trained up and task them with applying patches and updates as they are released, that way you’ll get all the new shiny features but you’ll also stay safe!
Reason 2 – You never got to phase 3. Way back in the mists of time you probably had a really good project that was split into 3 phases. Phase 1 was the basic implementation, phase 2 was the reporting and phase 3 was the nice to haves. You managed to get phases 1 &2 done but something happened along the way and all the really cool features that you liked never actually got implemented.
Solution – Now is the time to revisit what was sitting in phase 3. Although at the time some of it may have seemed like nice to have, you may find that they have moved further up the priority list and would really add value or make the system easier and more efficient to use.
Reason 3 – There’s a training deficit. If you have a high turnover then this will usually be because people just weren’t trained well enough in the handover, it may be that people have forgotten over time or that they only had enough training to just do their job at the start without finding out about all the great features that are built in.
Solution – you could find that a level of training is already included within your support package but if not then it could well be worth getting someone in from the software vendor to give your staff a refresher course and to see if there are areas of the system that could be used better. Make sure that the release notes from updates are circulated when there are new features added and think about setting up a quick training session so people can take time out to learn about them.
Reason 4 – You’ve not kept up with new releases. Even if they aren’t included within your support package, it is likely that you software company will regularly add new features and modules that would add real value to your system. Especially now with the speed of change it is important to ensure that you don’t rely upon your salesperson to keep you up to date.
Solution - Put a note in your diary to check out their website or give them a call and see what’s new and assess whether it would help you or not. Keep an eye on what is available in the market too, this can work as a prompt for you to push the company to provide it for your system.
Reason 5 – Time has moved on. Your business has changed and your requirements likewise but sadly your system is still configured in the same way as when it was installed and it’s creaking as a result. Maybe you have added new companies, new products or just got a lot busier but the systems and methods that seemed sensible back in the day now don’t look so efficient.
Solution – Run a mini project. Start with specifying how you would like the system to work and what features you’d like to see in an ideal world. Examine all the pain points and areas that just seem to take too much time or effort. Then take a fresh look at your systems to see where you can solve the issues. You may well find that there are features within your existing software that can be better utilised and save you time and money.
Reason 6 – Nobody owns anything. The problem can often be that the system doesn’t have a champion and if it’s left unloved and only given attention when it breaks then it is not surprising that you’re not getting the best value. Before long everyone hates it!
Solution – appoint a system owner and make sure that small issues are dealt with quickly before they become big issues. Don’t underestimate the value of internal PR. People will often make great suggestions for ways to make things better if they think there’s a likelihood that things will change and that their input is valued.
Reason 7 – and this is the most common; it has nothing to do with the system. Typically you’ll find that people have developed ways of doing things offline that take ages that could actually be done using the software. No one knows who started it, no one knows why but it has for some reason become ‘the way we do things round here’.
Solution – take some time to go through how people do what they do. Think about modules and features of your system and how they could be better used for those offline tasks. Look for jobs that have been done by the same person in the same way forever.
The best advice I can give is not to rush into buying software that you may not need. Have a look at what you have now and see if you can get more value out of your existing set up as this will ultimately provide a greater return on investment.
Be aware that there are 1001 sales people out there that will tell you that your system stinks and you should buy theirs!
As I said at the start of the piece my job is to help clients with their systems issues. I can help you decide whether you need to implement new or if what you have will work with some tweeks.
If you’d like to have an informal chat about issues your company may be experiencing then please do mail or call.