What works for others may not work for you. Different types of software solutions for any growing business
We live in such times when you need some kind of software to keep businesses afloat. The main reason used to be the modernization or digitalization of enterprises. Now, the Covid-19 pandemic only pushed this process further and everybody is moving their operations online. And here comes the problem — you need to know exactly what you want because there are plenty of solutions: CRM, marketplaces, ERP and the endless options of custom software. So how to choose a software solution for your business?
For most organizations, there comes a moment when technology becomes indispensable. When things go well, and the business grows, it’s impossible to do everything manually. The amount of work is overwhelming, just like the cost of the people doing it. For management, it’s stressful and frustrating.
This is the reason why you hear about digitization, automation or machine learning so often. These concepts are well-rooted in any contemporary industry. COVID-19 has only enhanced the digitization trend. Without the pandemic, we would switch to the digital mode slower, but it would eventually happen. The necessity sped up the upcoming technological evolution.
Unfortunately, Zoom is not enough to work efficiently. If you want your software development team to do a great job, you should have a whole set of applications. Microsoft Office is an obvious example, but there are also many other apps that will help you deal with your business challenges.
If you still need reasons for purchasing software
Digital tools have three major advantages:
- Software solutions are faster
Your computer does pretty much everything faster than you. It doesn’t take time to learn new things, finishes tasks quickly without taking a rest. Thanks to that, you avoid interruptions in daily processes.
- Software solutions eliminate errors
People will make mistakes, especially when performing monotonous tasks that don’t require creative thinking. It’s just how it is. Imagine an accountant generating several dozen invoices each day. Doing it manually would result in countless typos. If you provide them with good software, accountants won’t make the mistakes and will have more time for other tasks.
- Software solutions can do more
Some things simply cannot be done without specific software. You can’t sell online without a website or send a newsletter without mailing automation. There are also business models based on customized software like the ones of Uber or Amazon. When limiting your processes to human work, you may miss an important business opportunity. This is the reason why most companies have more digital tools than just a simple office suite. Thanks to them, each process is more efficient and the overall customer experience is better.
To buy, build or outsource?
To equip your business with the right apps, you may do three things. The most popular solution is to buy ready-made software. The majority of modern business apps are available in the Software-as-a-Service model giving you time-bound access to a cloud-based app in exchange for a subscription fee.
If what you’re looking for is a standard tool commonly used in your industry, ready-made products will probably satisfy you. You may use them for simple data analytics, accounting, customer support and other areas. As long as your firm is small, and your business model doesn’t rely on a specific technology, they should be sufficient. Once you grow and start offering more specialized services, you may need business software solutions developed especially for your organization.
In this case, you may opt for the second option which is building software yourself. You may hire developers that will do it for you, but it’s a risky solution. If you don’t have a technological background, it will cost you a lot of time and money to learn the essentials. Moreover, IT developers are expensive, not only in terms of their salary but also recruitment costs.
The last option is an external software developing service. A comprehensive service including consulting will help you identify your needs and develop your tool from A to Z without engaging you thoroughly. It’s an optimal option for companies looking for customized products because it takes the costs of maintaining an IT department from them.
Additionally, software agencies providing software consulting services are great support at the beginning of a tech project. Thanks to their experience, they translate your software requirements into specific features. Easy as it may seem, most organizations struggle to do it themselves. Imagine that you need a website for your e-commerce. How will your user filter products? Will you connect to the Google search engine? What client data will you gather? Will you provide customized recommendations? The list of questions is longer than it seems, and you may not come up with all of them yourself.
Types of software available on the market
There are plenty of enterprise software solutions on the market. These digital systems fall into several major categories. Each of them has it’s pros and cons, so it’s good to think them over before making the decision.
#1. Website with CMS
The years of leaflets are long behind us, and a website is a must in today’s business world. Online presence is a good way to provide your customers with all the information they’re looking for including your contact data or pricing details.
When developing a website, it’s good to think from a long-term perspective. Today, you may only need a simple information point to share enterprise news, but your website will grow together with your business. Because of that, it’s crucial to integrate it with a CMS (Content Management System): software that will allow you to post future news yourself without engaging web developers.
Most organizations build their websites on WordPress, an extremely popular CMS. It’s easy to use and doesn’t require technical knowledge, but its simplicity is also a disadvantage. Its functionalities are limited and don’t allow building a complex website with fancy design.
The best option to build a user-friendly website that will distinguish from the crowd is to use a software development service with the requirement of integrating it with a nice CMS. There are many of them on the market, so you’ll most likely find a tool adjusted to your needs.
#2. CRM System
CRM (Customer Relationships Management) software solutions are very common in business markets and in specific B2C industries (e.g. real estate or insurance). These systems help you store the data of your leads and clients including demographic or contact details in an organized way. They also allow you to write brief notes about your meetings, calls and other touchpoints.
A comprehensive CRM system, especially in a business based on relations, is great support for the sales and marketing departments. It’s a foundation for effective customer data analytics which gives great insight into their buying patterns.
Due to their usefulness, there are plenty of ready-made CRM platforms on the market. Most of them are available in the cloud. If your organization is small or medium-sized, it should be sufficient. Customized CRMs are not common.
#3. ERP Platform
ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) helps companies with effective resource management: planning demand, calculating costs or performing data analytics. It facilitates supply chain management at every step, especially in production and distribution.
ERP software solutions are complex and usually serve ascentral data hubs for all departments using enterprise resources. They prove especially useful when a process engages multiple departments and generates challenges with spreading key information.
There are multiple cloud resources planning solutions on the market and depending on the characteristics of your business, they will be sufficient for you or not. A platform providing so much information is a strategic asset. For optimal supply chain management data analytics, it may be necessary to build a customized solution. In such a case, the first stage of the project is key. You must identify your needs properly to build a solution adjusted to your organization. Because of that, it’s recommended to take advantage of external consulting services, especially if you can get the support of a company specialized in resources planning.
Marketplace platforms connect the two sides of transactions — the sellers and the buyers — and help them finalize it. Monetization typically comes from ads and/or intermediation.
A marketplace may be your idea for a business. In this case, high-quality development is crucial because the entire business model relies on it. There are some ready-made tools for marketplaces, but they’re fine only for simple ideas. To gain a competitive advantage in the crowded marketplace industry, you must create a unique experience for your user. Without a distinctive touch and feel, you won’t gain visibility, and clients won’t leave the competition for you.
The best option is to build a custom marketplace where every feature adds up to your visibility and increases your chances for commercial success.
5. Custom Web/Mobile Development and Design
For organizations with truly original ideas, the last option is the optimal one. If you’re building an innovative business model in which technology plays a key role, what you need are custom development and design services. You outsource the entire project to an agency and build entirely new software exclusively for your organization.
You may develop custom software solutions for your employees for areas such as IT management, accounting, data analytics, business intelligence, and many more. Similarly, you may build software for your end clients’ use, e.g. a mobile app or a web platform.
With such innovative software solutions, it’s important to find an agency that will walk you through the project from A to Z. It’s recommended to outsource design works to the same company to avoid UX problems in the final product. Choosing a good partner at this point will pay off because it’s not a one-shot collaboration, especially when building an app for your clients. In the years to come, you’ll still need to add new features or fix bugs. You should avoid jumping from one integrated software solutions provider to another to avoid ending up with messy code.
A good, experienced software agency will diagnose your needs, create a prototype of your app and adjust it to you, do the development and finally maintain your app in the long-run. It’s a complex process that takes time, but only this can guarantee good results.
Every company is different. So is the software
The spectrum of the software solutions available on the market is wide, but your idea may require building a custom app. To choose the optimal option, start with identifying your requirements and researching existing products. If they don’t satisfy you, look for a specialized agency that will help you with your project.