Red Pepper Blog

5 Simple Rules for Business App Success…

From my experience in helping to build custom business apps, I frequently get asked what software a business should implement to help their business grow. Anyone involved in software knows that’s a pretty broad and loaded question. Just as one business is unique to another, so are business software solutions. While there are no simple answers to people wondering about what software they need for their company–off the shelf or custom–there are a few basic rules of thumb someone can use that can’t go wrong.

  1. Know your needs. Identify the basic processes your business runs on. An off-the-shelf or custom business software app will NEVER replace the necessity of having key stakeholders that understand the business processes that software is actually helping to streamline. Moving forward without a thorough deep-dive into your gut suspicions almost always means more money and more time in the long run.
  2. Know your systems. What are the software systems that your business (or closely knit contractors) are actually using to fulfill your processes? It can be really helpful to use a basic charting tool like MindNode (one of my personal favs) or Coggle or whatever you use to catch your brainstorms.
  3. Identify integration and people points. Once you know what tools you have, try mapping out which tools communicate to which other tools, with or without human intermediaries. Next, wherever you do have people involved, what are the basic functions they are performing? Be sure to include a sub-node that gives you a ballpark $ value of the relationship/function of the node set for your business. The fun thing about these mind-mapping tools is you can export them into an outline format that gives you a tremendous amount of flexibility and share-power.
  4. Clarify the objective. The amount of things that software can do for your business grows everyday. You can do almost anything with software… but should you? What is it that you’re really trying to achieve? What’s the measurable benefit of the outcome.
  5. Compare total cost of ownership. Once you’ve clarified the objective you need to achieve with your business software, how does it compare? Upfront costs, Configuration, Adoption Costs, Training, Monthly Subscriptions/Maintenance etc. Surprisingly, there are many times when a custom business software application actually provides more solutions at a lower cost than an off-the-shelf counterpart.

Like I said, there’s certainly no panacea for business software but there is no doubt that the amount of software used in EVERY business in only going to increase. Those businesses looking to increase market-share, improve profitability or streamline working roles for their staff are certainly going to be leveraging custom software to do it.