Searching for the right software can make or break your print shop. With a variety of software available and the features they offer, it can be tough to make a decision. This guide on choosing the most suitable software for your print shop will help you structure and simplify your decision-making.
Before buying any software for your business, you have to consider your stakeholders. Depending on the size of your business, your stakeholders can vary. Examples would be such as your salesperson, print team, logistics person, and procurement manager. :
- Who will be using the software?
- Who plays a role in choosing the software?
- Who will be affected by the usage of the software?
When you sort out your stakeholders, you can plan out who should be briefed about this, and when their input is needed. This extra step will help to make your selection process a swift one.
There is no one perfect software solution out there for your business. You must carefully consider what problems you’re trying to solve and understand the trade-offs of using each software. It’s easy to get carried away by “amazing features” that may have tangential benefits but ultimately burdens your entire team. Instead, prioritize business needs and seek software that solves your core problems well.
If you are an experienced business owner, you would already have an understanding of what needs to be upgraded or replaced. However, if you are new to purchasing software for your business, you can use the following criteria to evaluate what you need to change:
- List what you like and dislike about your current solution
- List what improvements you wish your current solution had
- List what is missing in your current solution
For example, if sorting through your customers’ payments is tedious and time-consuming, you would want a software that automates that process. You can also discuss with the relevant stakeholders to get a better picture of your needs. It will help to sort them into three categories:
- Essentials: Features that must be included in the software. If these features are unavailable, the product is not acceptable.
- Conditional: Features that are not absolutely needed, but are important for productivity and the business. Software solutions that do not have these conditional features will be ranked lower.
- Nice to have: Features that are not essential or conditional, but would be a bonus to have if available.
Once you have sorted it out, you can ask software vendors to respond directly to your list of requirements and compare the software with each other. Being specific with your questions prevents you from falling for a well-rehearsed sales pitch that only highlights the best parts of the software.
The first task is to come up with a list of software vendors to consider. First on the list should be incumbents and software that you have already heard by word of mouth or have seen them in a trade show. Next, you can perform a simple keyword search in Google. You can find vendors that rank for those keywords as well as vendors advertising for those keywords. You can also consider using software comparison sites like Capterra to discover more vendors.
Another method of discovery is to investigate what your competitors are currently using. You can discover this through forums, Facebook groups, or other social media outlets. Finally, try asking for advice from experts in your industry or reach out to your network. With their experience, it will give you a tangible idea of narrowing down your choices.
When you already have your list, you can start reaching out to your vendors. Insist on a demo. You get the most value by seeing an expert on the software explain and work the software. Before a demo, it is best to prepare enough questions to ask and keep your feature list in mind. We recommend involving at least one other stakeholder in the demo so that they can also provide feedback in the selection process.
After the demo stage, you would want to narrow down to the top three choices to trial. Keep in mind that not all software solutions offer a free trial. A few tips in mind when you trial:
- Try one feature at a time. Take the time to understand how each feature works before moving onto the next one.
- Prepare your team by briefing them on their roles in the trial and what you want to achieve in this trial run.
- Collect structured honest feedback about the trial run from everyone. Establish clear criteria to evaluate the software to ensure a speedy selection process.
Now that you have done your due diligence and gathered feedback from all the stakeholders, you have all the information needed to make a decision. Good luck!