How to choose the right software tool, in five steps

Bringing a new piece of technology into your business can lead to huge productivity gains—or become a huge time suck. Be aware

The Frictionless Office

Two women discussing over a laptop

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Many businesses can benefit from integrating the right software tools, says Stephanie Hayes of Tacit Management Consulting in Vancouver, whose offerings include helping companies select and merge IT solutions. But how do you make the right choice for your organization? Here are her top tips:

1. Know your needs

“The first thing is to get really clear on your requirements,” Hayes says. Create a prioritized list of must-haves and nice-to-haves, and use these requirements to evaluate potential vendors in an organized manner.

2. Know your deal breakers

“For one customer, it was the fact they needed their data to reside in Canada,” Hayes says—not an easy requirement to meet, but one that made it simple to narrow down the vendor list.

3. Have a process

Once you’ve got a short list of tools, it’s time for demos. But provide salespeople with guidelines, she says. “We’ll give vendors a script so they demo the same features in the same order and aren’t wasting time on features we don’t care about.”

4. Negotiate

“Vendors are typically pretty flexible on their pricing,” Hayes says. “You don’t have to feel like the sticker price is the sticker price.” Cost structures and licensing models can be convoluted, so be aware of what’s included and what is priced as an add-on or per transaction fee, and know what the implementation costs will be.

5. Get everyone on board

“People need to be involved early on and well aware of what’s happening,” Hayes notes, adding that the number one reason employees don’t use a new system is that they weren’t involved in choosing it. “It’s not necessarily design by committee,” she adds, “but if they have a voice in the process, they are far more likely to be champions for adoption within their team.”