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Given how integral software tools are to a successful business, adopting new technology can feel like a monumental change. Software drives everything from internal logistics to how customers interact with your company’s offerings.
As your business grows, it will become necessary to graduate to bigger and more robust tools — and it’s important to consider these decisions carefully. Going blind into a large-scale technology switch could disrupt customers and staff significantly and potentially cause lasting damage to the business.
Before your next major software switch, take a moment to consider and plan for some of these potential effects.
1. Customer impact
Tools that your customers and clients interact with directly, such as scheduling apps, online portals, and point-of-sale systems, could become a new source of pain points. Before making any changes to your customer-facing tools, consider these key questions:
- How easy is the tool to use?
- Is it an improvement over the current setup?
- Will customers need to spend any time learning how to use it?
- Do you have many repeat customers who will struggle to adapt to the change?
- If there are issues, how much effort will it take for your team to resolve them?
Keep in mind that it’s not just customer-facing software that impacts the customer experience. Tools that slow company output or make it harder for staff to communicate with your customers can negatively impact the experience of your brand.
2. Team impact
Ultimately, changing your business tools should always improve customer experience, but customers are not the only key stakeholders to consider. Your company’s employees will likely carry most of the weight of the software change, along with the personal transition of adapting to it. Beware of investing heavily in software that improves customer experience or cuts costs at the expense of your employee experience. Tools that hinder or frustrate team members can hurt productivity and contribute to staff burnout and turnover.
A slight dip in productivity as employees learn new tools is normal. But if team members still struggle to operate at their previous capacity some time after the switch, the new tool may be causing bigger issues than a learning curve.
3. Total cost
Cost is always a critical factor in business software decisions, but it’s not as simple as top-line pricing. Many software companies offer products at a low base rate and increase their profit by filling your ledger with fees. Other vendors offer a low introductory rate and then raise costs quickly for the remainder of your service.
Before investing in a new product, consider the all-in pricing of the tool. As you do, pay attention to a crucial meta-factor in the pricing conversation: transparency. Do the company or its representatives speak clearly and honestly about total costs? If not, it could be a warning flag for future dealings with that company’s services.
4. Security concerns
Even minor oversights with data privacy and security can severely harm a company and its customers and employees. This is especially true of tools that deal with accounting, payments, and your customers’ personal information.
Ask the following questions when it comes to security:
- Does the tool handle private customer or employee data? If so, does it take appropriate steps to protect it?
- Do the product’s representatives emphasize compliance with government and industry regulations? Additionally, do they charge fees for this support, or is it considered a core part of the service?
- Apart from day-to-day use and operation of the tool, are there any privacy or security concerns to be aware of during the transition process?
Software security shares a class with business concerns such as insurance, licensing, and legal compliance. What may feel like an unnecessary nuisance at times could turn disastrous for organizations that don’t take it seriously.
Seamless business transitions can improve workflow, profit, and customer satisfaction. Alternatively, tumultuous ones can introduce issues that cost money, time, energy, and even customers. Switching your software will likely cause some minor disruptions. Ideally, these disruptions will smooth out as people adjust to the transition. It’s important to prepare for likely interruptions before making your switch.
Continuity also applies to interactions with your other software tools. The new product should be able to integrate seamlessly with your internal ecosystem without creating new friction points. A connected system of tools, such as the Square ecosystem of products, can save hours of time each week while reducing costs and increasing profits.
Finally, make sure to consider the continuity of data. If your business relies on historical records and other information, you will want to know whether your new tool supports the data and formats you use.