Cash-strapped start-ups need to pick the right software blend for the fastest possible launch and the best chance of forward momentum. Easier said than done, so what things should you keep in mind?
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That software takes a central role in modern business won’t be news to many budding entrepreneurs. However it’s fair to say they don’t always realise exactly how central it is to their relationship building efforts until they’re trying to get their company up and running.
The right SaaS-based programs can help you gauge the happiness of your clients and candidates, perform your most critical duties more quickly and effectively, automate time-consuming processes, and give your entire team a single point of access to data, so you know who is talking to whom and can keep your finger on the business pulse.
But deciding what exactly you need when you’ve got a limited budget (and therefore limited room for error) isn’t always easy. A startup owner looking to maximise software’s value should make sure whatever they purchase delivers in the following areas.
To maximise your return on investment, you need applications that help you sort out the reams of information your company accumulates on a daily basis and a shared system that enables whole teams to access it.
For example, imagine the potential unleashed by being able to track email communications between a colleague and a client when that colleague is on holiday. If you’ve got a sales team in any sector, this access could be the difference between landing a client before your rivals, for example.
"As time passes, processes will change, and your IT will change with it: your software needs to be future-proof"
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software enables you to work from a centralised pool of relevant data. There are a few of these available in the market, but – in the age of flexible working – it’s important that whatever you eventually select has mobile functionality.
Organising your time
Achieving the maximum ROI isn’t just about new business: it requires a change in your entire approach to work. To do this properly, you need to think about how to align your workflows with core processes.
For a marketing team, this might be automating some of your necessary, but mundane, top-of-funnel tasks; for an application development team, this might involve making things easier across the entire software lifecycle – from requirements and architecture through to testing and operations.
Of course, better time management is useful beyond the technology sector. For maximum ROI, try to find an application that can perform any repetitive tasks for you. Using MailChimp, for example, is much easier than copying and pasting client emails into an address bar.
Most importantly, don’t forget that mobile accessibility is key. With the ability to work from any device and any location, your employees will be more productive as a result.
Modern CRM systems help you keep in touch with customers - even while in a cafe wearing a beanie hat
A more intelligent company
Good software lets you work fast; great software helps you work smart. Managing and collating data is one thing, but it’s important that you’re able to do something with this information. A more intelligent business is based on things that can be quantified, verified, and understood: hunches and educated guesswork won’t do the trick anymore.
As a business leader, it’s imperative that you can access business-critical information, wherever you are, to help you ascertain the sentiment of your clients and candidates. After all, if the relationships are strong, the revenue will follow.
A good startup will have applications that can give convenient access to this insight. For example, if the account manager of a major client is taken ill, the right software will let you or a colleague take over the account seamlessly, with all the information that has been previously given at your fingertips. This provides a great experience for the client – and a happy client is one who will make a fantastic testimonial.
With all the new opportunities cloud software provides, it will only improve your ROI if everything’s humming along nicely. As time passes, processes will change, and your IT will change with it: your software needs to be future-proof.
Today, SaaS technology makes this a painless process: software upgrades are done automatically before your systems are updated. As a result, you won’t even notice they’re taking place and your team can continue to work without interruptions.
How this software relates to the rest of your IT needs to be considered as well: a good application programming interface (API) may allow it to communicate with other programs seamlessly, with some difficulty, or with great difficulty, depending on your provider.
Choosing software for your business is a big decision, but it all boils down to two interrelated things: building strong relationships and making money. If it doesn’t help you do this – directly or indirectly – then there’s a good chance it’s not worth it. If your supplier isn’t able to communicate this to you, consider alternative options.
Peter Linas is international managing director at Bullhorn