January shouldn’t be any different from December but somehow it is. As one tick of the second hand we move from one year complete to the new one ahead. We have probably all over indulged over the festive period, made and broken our resolutions and started back at work. January is often the time where we plan for the year ahead and that makes it a great time to look at the software you use in your business and come up with a plan for what is needed to help your company meet that business plan.
Below we have a simple 3 step plan to help with the review:
1. Look at the software you have
In most companies you will be using software in some form. This will be either installed on each user’s PC (Word, Excel etc) or installed on a server (potentially in your office or, at least recently, more likely on the vendors servers).
Once you have a list of all the software you are using it is time to break it down into something useful for your software plan of action. Even simple traffic light approach can be effective, green for “working fine”, yellow for “could be improved” and red for not being used or extremely out of date (e.g. software that will only run on older operating systems like Windows XP should be red flagged).
Yellow we will deal with in the next step but for the reds you have to dig a little deeper, especially if they are not being used. There are quite a lot of reasons software is not used, from being bought but never implemented, not the right solution for what was required or that the requirements of the company have changed. The solution to these problems are specific to the problem, for example if it was never implemented is it time to allocate the resource to get that done or if it is not the right solution is it time to allocate a resource to finding a better match or getting your own bespoke solution developed.
If you are paying a licence fee or subscription to as solution then it might be time to end that subscription. If you paid for it outright you have only lost the purchase cost.
Software that is extremely out of date is a business risk, a key decision on if it should be replaced is what would be the downside of if it stops working.
2. Potential Improvements to Software
This is where the software given a yellow status might be solved. In general we are talking about either extending the features of a bit of software to make it work better for your requirements or integrating bits of software to improve efficiency.
3. Look at manual processes that should be done by software.
This is more a case of looking at processes in your company that are not currently using software. Manual and repetitive tasks are a great place to start. With that list in hand you can search for off the shelf solutions to deal with those requirements. Or look to have your own solution written. Of course that should make business sense, something we have written about before.
At FMS we have vast experience of doing this type of reviewing and planning, we give impartial advice for free and pride ourselves of never recommending bespoke development where there are cheaper alternatives available “off the shelf”. If you need any assistance with the above then please get in contact.