A New Bespoke – 4 Key Considerations for Small Business Software

07 Feb 2020

Small businesses looking to improve their processes to fuel their expansion have a challenge when it comes to software.  On the plus side there is an absolute plethora of apps and off-the-shelf products designed to be easy and quick to access and cheap which is a boon to small business owners for whom budgeting for a system designed for their business is out of the reach. 

So, what’s the problem? 

Small business owners are juggling more and more balls and it’s causing more fog than clarity. The benefit of off-the-shelf is that they tend to be cloud products that can be used from anywhere which for fast-moving small businesses with staff working in different places, means they can work from anywhere and be more productive.  However, the challenge comes when there is more than one app being used in a process, or even for one job. Typically small businesses are straddling traditional ‘systems’ of written notes, jobs boards and whiteboards with what is now ‘old school’ technology of spreadsheets and office systems. On top of that there are multiple apps, usually starting with a CRM.  Typically most off-the-shelf apps are designed to do one job, ‘generically’ . In addition, if they integrate, the business manager has to work out the integration, or configurations themselves and it’s not always easy, particularly when you might have multiple apps covering marketing, invoicing, accounting, expenses, mileage, field management, email and more.   

The big problem? Nothing is in one place  and business managers are forced to go to multiple sources to find out what on earth is going on in the business. 

The Alternative – The New Bespoke

Things have come a long way in software terms and expensive no longer has to mean the most complex or sophisticated.  There is now a new hybrid alternative to off-the-shelf with the benefits of custom software without the high costs. Here we look at 4 considerations when selecting your new software:

1) Initial Costs

Traditional bespoke projects will cost more than off-the-shelf solutions because they are ‘custom-made’ and typically this comes at a significant initial outlay which often isn’t in the budget for smaller businesses, often, this can run into tens of thousands.  It’s no wonder that most small businesses opt for off-the-shelf. It should be noted however, that some off-the-shelf packages are now charging for implementation when they have no customisation. 

The alternative is a hybrid like the Workhorse platform.  Setting a new standard in small business software, Workhorse provides deep customisation and automation with an off-the-shelf approach with a small implementation fee and monthly subscription. 

2) Time

Small businesses need to move fast and be kung-fu masters with resources, waiting months (or even over a year) for a bespoke software system to be implemented may just be the ball and chain they don’t need. Off-the-shelf is tempting. It’s there, ready to go.  Perfect. Or is it?

The downside to immediate availability is limitation.  Most off-the-shelf products are generic and not designed around the way small businesses work and they find they have to adapt the way they work to match them, or maintain parallel systems in order to work the way they need to.  That in itself is a waste of time and resources. Then, if you can make changes or integrate with other apps… YOU have to do it and it isn’t always that easy and where do you find the time anyway?  

Again, the new wave of small business technology, spearheaded  by Workhorse, has the answer. Designed on the premise of deep customisation from the ground-up, Workhorse is customised for the client to create a bespoke system with integrations in a matter of weeks. 

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3) Scalability & ROI

Most small businesses are destined to grow and this doesn’t just mean number of users, processes will change and develop as the business evolves. This means you’ll need to change your system and the last thing you’ll want is to have to pay for significant re-development of a legacy system.  Your system needs to give you the ability to grow and adapt without a huge cost or need to change to get the requirements you now need. A scalable system that can be developed and changed over time as a part of its service, is the more flexible and cost-effective choice, something most off-the-shelf systems are unable to do.  So ask your supplier, do they provide on-going support and development as a part of the package. 

4) Reducing Your Security Risk

The more systems and apps your business and your data is spread across, the higher the risk – even spreadsheets.  This is due to the fact that the hackers have more entrance points and you will have higher numbers of users and passwords giving access to your systems. You are also not in control of the security for this plethora of software service providers.  One system, providing an end-to-end process for perhaps your order and inventory management, invoicing and accounting, means you reduce the external risk of your data getting into the wrong hands and your business being disrupted.

Choosing the right software for a growing business is critical but new developments in business software mean that businesses do not have to be limited by time, resources, knowledge or budget to get the tools they need to grow fast.

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