How to choose the solution you need according to your use case?
Surely you have faced problems at work on more than one occasion such as lack of organization of teams, data that ends up being lost or duplicated, forgetting key dates or lack of control in the processes.
At this point you may have thought about looking for software to avoif this kind of problems. You are not the only one, this is a classic. We are talking about solving business challenges with software.
The logical process, after finding this type of challenges in the organization, is to do a market survey. You will probably be surprised by all the possible solutions and their different costs and implications. In fact, many clients often contact us at that moment, when they need professional guidance.
As many solutions as there are, they all fall into four basic types. Therefore, we have developed and analyzed the four ways to solve a business challenge with sofware. In addition, we provide our professional recommendation of use and practical advice for each case.
The 4 ways to solve a business challenge with software.
Pros, cons and their characteristics.
1. OFFICE SUITES.
It is the cornerstone of management information technology. It can be used for everything. There are very few problems that cannot be solved in a more or less provisional way with a work methodology. It can be supported by Excel sheets, Word documents, Outlook calendar, emails and shared folders on a server.
- It is economic.
- You can do it yourself.
- It adapts to the way the organization works.
- It is very fast to implement.
- There is a real Excel genius in every company.
- Solving a problem exclusively with office automation usually results in manual processes that require human intervention at every step. They are very susceptible to errors.
- Data entered is not validated, difficult to totalize, analyze and summarize.
- The recurrent copy paste often works against the user and errors are generated on a day-to-day basis that are difficult to detect.
- In general, the computer performs few or no important actions for us automatically.
Suitable for: Temporarily solving new problems, non-critical processes in the organization, or in case of having a very limited budget.
2. CLOSED or STANDARD PACKAGES.
This is the first great qualitative leap in management information technology. In this category you will find commercial, “ready-to-use” software that solve specific problems common to all companies and organizations. We are talking about invoicing, document management, accounting , human resources, customer relationship management (CRM) packages, contract management (CLM) packages, etc. Unlike office-based solutions, closed packages automate as much as possible the most repetitive actions of each process.
- Closed packages offer the best value for money in software. Most of them based on subscriptions (SaaS model, Software as a Service).
- Unlike office suits, they save a lot of time on repetitive tasks.
- They control human errors.
- They make it possible to obtain global information on processes, at any time and quickly.
- They require specific training to learn how to use them.
- Some are “rigid” (they do what they do, and cannot be changed). The user must adapt to the functionality of the software. Others can be configured by the user without the need for technical knowledge, but this adaptation requires some initial work.
- They may not be able to cover 100% of the peculiarities of the business.
Suitable for: Basic business processes such as invoicing, accounting, document management, payroll, departmental workflows, contract management, etc.
Tip: Look for closed packs that have a good ability to import and export information to office suits, and other software (in informatics this is called “integration” with other programs). That way you can set up an “ecosystem” of applications that collaborate with each other efficiently.
Docuo is a closed pack focused on Document Management, Contract Management and Business Workflows management.
3. SECTORIAL SOLUTIONS
Sector-specific solutions are management software applications designed to meet the specific needs of a particular sector of activity. They include the basic functionalities of a closed packages, as well as those specific to the sector. Thus it is possible to find sector-specific solutions for translation agencies, language schools, marketing companies, car repair shops, administrative agencies or law firms.
For example, in a sector-specific solution for a translation agency, in addition to the basic invoicing or payment and collection control functionalities of a standard invoicing pack, there is a translator database with specific fields. In an administrative agency, the program will contemplate the steps and deadlines for the different procedures, among others.
- If you have sectorial software for your activity, this solution usually covers very specifically the needs of the business.
- You will benefit from the fact that the program is not as generic as a closed pack. The functionalities it offers will be more familiar and useful to you, since they are designed specifically for your business.
- Industry solutions often cover several areas of management (invoicing, projects, treasury, human resources, etc.) in one program.
- The price of sectorial solutions is usually higher than that of closed packages.
- Industry solutions are still “rigid” (they do what they do, and cannot be changed).
- Although software manufacturers offer to “parameterize” the industry tools (adjust some parameters) to adapt them as much as possible to each client, the reality is that an adaptation exercise is always required.
- In many cases, there is no industry software for your sector of activity.
- It requires specific training to learn how to use them, usually more complex than that of closed packages.
- You run the risk of using the same software pack as your competitors, which can be an advantage or a disadvantage.
Suitable for: Medium-sized companies in whose sector there are solutions of this type that are a reasonable fit with the way they work.
Tip: Evaluate the industry solutions most commonly used in your sector. Ask the company supplying the software for customer references for your business. In some sectors there are packs that are considered almost standard due to their widespread use.
4. CUSTOMIZED SOFTWARE
Customized tools are the highest level in management information technology. They are usually based on pre-designed elements or “pieces”. Although each application is customized after a consultancy with the client, in which their needs are studied one by one.
Unlike other types of solutions, customized management software requires a development project that begins with a requirements gathering and a study of the organization’s way of working. Then, the programmers assemble the solution and make it available to the customer within a timeframe that can vary from a few weeks to several months or even years.
When the project is successful you get a unique tool fully adapted to the company’s needs.
- Custom solutions are the only tool that adapts 100% to the way the company works and does not force the organization to adjust to the program.
- The resulting software can be modified and improved over time to adapt it to the new needs of the organization.
- It can be prepared for exporting and importing data from other solutions as closed packages, considerably reducing its size.
- If the project is properly carried out, the overall benefit obtained in management is very high and cannot be matched in quality by any other family of solutions.
- Custom software is the most expensive solution of the software tools.
- Tailor-made solutions are unique and therefore generate a strong dependence on the software manufacturer (in practice, only the company that manufactured the software can maintain it).
- Development times may be delayed due to poorly dimensioned functionalities in the consultancy.
- As it is a unique product for each client, it is normal that there are failures or “bugs” in the solution that will be solved in the first months of use.
- Although they require specific training to learn how to use them it is usually simple, since the screens and functionalities were designed together with the client.
Suitable for: Large companies in whose sector there are no sectorial solutions or who want to make their way of working prevail in the computerization of their processes.
Tip: Make sure that the consulting team that will take the requirements has experience in your industry or similar industries. If this is not possible, make sure that the methodology they use to document the requirements is solid. You must also make sure that you are provided with full project documentation and reasonable deadlines before starting the project.