Everybody’s been there: your company has a software package everyone loves; it’s easy to use, everyone knows how to use it; but your managers want more information and they may not be up for a capital line item right now. What do you do?

Ever since the early 90s this has been one of the questions most asked by people we meet. There are a number of things that you can do to extend the life of your current software, a lot depends on what your challenges are.

For the sake of covering the basics, here are the top ten things that our clients tell us they have done to get more out of the software they already have:

  1. Make sure that they have the latest version of their current software, this way they have all the latest functionality. Over time every software company adds additional features and benefits to their software to remain competitive. If you don’t do your upgrades, you miss out on all the new functionality, and your team not only winds up working harder than they need to, it costs you extra dollars for their time and could even mean that team members burn out and leave the company. All of these outcomes will be a greater hit to your bottom line than upgrading your software, so budget for it and get it done. 
  2. If necessary, update their servers, RAM and desktops (you’ll need to do this anyway). Servers typically have a five year life after which the manufacturer stops making replacement parts. Desktops and laptops have a two to four year life, depending on the programs you are running. By year three desktops and laptops run at less than 50% of the speed they did when they were new and you now have a situation where your team members are wasting time because their computers are too slow. Remember, idyll time is wasted time and costs your company money as well.  
  3. Make a list of the functionality your team believes they need, (again, you’ll need to do this later anyway).
  4. Make a list of reports and information that your managers are asking for, combine it with the previous list and prioritize everything.
  5. Take the time to calculate in hours the time consuming, redundant tasks you and your team do on a regular basis. Figure out what those tasks cost your company by multiplying hourly costs plus 30% fringe benefits, times the hours per week, times fifty two weeks to calculate the cost. 
  6. If you need more man or girl power, estimate the cost of the person you need, plus 30% fringe benefits, but keep in mind that by adding team members you are adding an annual expense that will increase over time and never go away. Always compare on going payroll costs against the one time cost of purchasing a software program. 
  7. Take the top 3-5 items to your current software company and ask them to help you accomplish them or create work arounds to get the information your company needs
  8. Review and consider the cost of upgrading and expanding your current software with integrating applications if they are available. Start with programs that integrate to the software you already have. Hire an expert for that software to get it up and running, and integrated to your accounting software 
  9. Talk with colleagues that also use the same software, have they been able to solve some of the same issues? If so how? Did they have help?
  10. When the cost of making changes exceeds 70% of the new software you are considering, it’s time to start thinking about what a transition timeline might look like.

Getting the very most out of the software you already have is a great first step. Much like deciding if you need a new house, you look at everything youre currently doing and quantify what you need to change. Sometimes you can get another two years with your current software, and that’s good because it gives you time to plan and budget for the changes you want and need. Sometimes you realize that you’re wasting so much time that you need to make a change as soon as possible, and that’s okay too. 

Even if you find that you have to make changes right away and haven’t budgeted for upfront costs you still have options: figure out what you need, develop a budget and a timeline, and look at purchasing the system you need via a capital lease. Lots of leasing companies will cover software including implementation and training; and you can always take their lease offering to your bank and ask them for a better lease or loan rate for your project. There’s always a way to get what you really need, but remember to calculate your ROI, because those savings will hit your bottom line every year, and after all; every company needs to find ways to work smarter, doing more with what they already have.  

If all of this sounds like the challenges you are dealing with, email me at khermes@thebestsolution.com and let’s find time to talk. There’s always a way to get more, especially if you really need it!