Choosing the perfect software for your business can seem like a monumental task given the plethora of applications available in the market. For my first company, our quest for finding the right tool had us sift through three different CRMs, one accounting app, and three project management apps. Each was given a fair trial, but sadly, they didn’t quite align with our unique needs. As green entrepreneurs, our approach to software adoption was based more on enthusiasm than strategic planning, and in hindsight, we could've benefited from a more systematic methodology. This unplanned approach led us to bear significant costs in terms of time and resources, hindering our business's growth.
In this third instalment of my series on CRM adoption, I will guide you on the ideal digital adoption journey. Sharing insights and detailing the approach I wish I had taken - the same approach I now advise my clients to undertake, will hopefully help you circumnavigate the issues we faced.
Charting the Course
The initial misstep in our journey was failing to define our precise requirements. The secret sauce to selecting the right software lies in starting with a crystal-clear understanding of the jobs your team needs to accomplish, as well as the existing processes they follow. Always prioritize 'People' and 'Processes' before considering 'Tools'. After all, software is there to enhance your team’s work, not complicate it.
In our case, our mistake was not taking into account our daily tasks, pain points, and what we were hoping to achieve with the software. We did what any other millennial would have done: we asked Reddit. Reddit's recommendation of Highrise was free and easy to use, so we jumped on board. But just a month later, the application was discontinued, sending us back to square one. Despite this setback, we didn't learn our lesson and ended up adopting two more CRMs: Agile and Monday.com, both of which had their advantages but ultimately weren't a fit for our company. We were in business for almost two years before we finally found our match in Zoho - a suite of integrated tools that catered to all our needs.
A more strategic approach would've saved us time, frustration, and resources. We should've started by identifying our needs, researching top applications, and then applying a decision matrix to shortlist a couple of options to trial.
The Ideal Approach
The quest for perfect software doesn’t have to be daunting. The principle of "People, Processes, Tools" serves as a trusty guide. This straightforward mantra is a life-saver when it comes to software selection. The steps are simple:
- Identify the people who will be using the software. That is, what do your People require?
- Clarify what they will be using the software for. That is, what do your Processes require?
- Then, based on the requirements identified above, start considering which software (i.e., Tools) would be the best fit.
After you’ve listed your team’s needs, add any high-level business requirements such as cost, security, scalability, and training, and then prioritize them. Initiate your search based on the priority requirements. A decision matrix in a spreadsheet can be a handy tool to map all the requirements to each software you’re considering. This structured approach helps in weighing the benefits of each software option against your specific needs, aiding in making a sound decision.
Don't just jump onto the application that scored the highest in your decision matrix. Instead, consider the top two or three software solutions in your decision matrix. A smart way to do this without spending weeks trialing each is to watch how-to videos on YouTube. These videos will give you an idea of whether the application is intuitive for you and your team, and the number of videos can also indicate the software's popularity. If you like what you see, then the final step before committing is to start using a free trial version of the application. This last step is the final confirmation before you commit, so ensure all potential stakeholders are involved in the trial.
Remember, even after following all these steps, your software adoption may still stumble if your team doesn’t embrace it. Some of us love change, many others don't. Therefore, managing expectations and training your staff effectively are essential for a smooth transition. Always remember, people come first; software is just a tool to assist us!
Technology can be transformative for your business, but adopting the wrong tool can be frustrating, time-consuming, and costly if you don’t go about it strategically. Make sure to factor in how your business needs might evolve over time as well. Choosing the right software is not just about meeting your current needs, but also about future-proofing your operations. Adopting a strategic, thoughtful approach to software selection will yield time, cost savings, improved productivity, and a happier workforce.