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6 steps to choosing the right business software

The team at Ezi Debt Collection has helped thousands of customers get paid, and by extension, we’ve become familiar with many of the accounting software options available to Australian business people.

Finding accounting software which is cost-effective, efficient and suited to your business is a difficult task, so we asked our friend, Oliver Garside from Rounded for some insider tips. Rounded is a streamlined accounting software platform designed with self-employed business people in mind.

Oliver states that there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to choosing the right business software, but emphasises that understanding a few basic principles can maximise the chances of making the best choice. Oliver has created the following framework based on his experience working with businesses of all sizes:

1. Accept you may have to do things differently

“There’s one main reason why people purchase business software – to improve the way that they do business”, says Oliver. “Whatever you’re looking to improve, it’s likely to involve a behavioural or process change.”

Oliver states that if you’re prepared to invest time and resources into new business software, you should also be prepared to enact other changes to your business too, or risk improvement not being made.

“Acknowledging this and being comfortable with potential changes at the start of the process will put you in the right frame of mind to effectively evaluate options”.

2. Understand your business requirements before you start looking

Oliver advises against immediately diving into the business software market if you’ve made the decision to invest in new business software.

“Rushing in is tempting, but can be counterproductive if you haven’t thought about what outcomes you want” says Oliver. “Every business has different requirements so it’s vital to be clear on what you want to accomplish before you start an evaluation process”.

Oliver suggests writing a list of the most important requirements and outcomes to refer back to. Start with the non-negotiable items, (the needs) and then those that would be nice to have (the wants).

3. Get the most out of a free trial

Oliver claims that Rounded view their trial period as crucial to establishing the user experience.

“The best customer relationships are always built with those users who invest time into the trial period.” Oliver says. “They explore the tool and the most important features, they probe and question us on how things work and they get a real sense as to how Rounded will impact their business. Sometimes this means they choose another solution but that’s fine – it’s still win win!”

Every trial is likely to be different so understanding from the outset what you are trialling and the terms of the trial is critical. Oliver particularly warns trialists to be aware of opt-out trial arrangements, where the onus is on the customer to cancel their trial.

4. Consider Cost vs Value

SaaS pricing can be a minefield; multiple pricing tiers, component or activity based pricing, freemium vs premium, monthly vs annual, and many more options are enough to make a consumer’s head spin.

Oliver advises that consumers consider value as opposed to cost when making a purchase decision on business software.

“Freemium plans may save you a marginal amount of money per month, but may not offer the same time-saving functionality as other options on the market” says Oliver. “This may often justify an up-front outlay.”

For cost-conscious buyers, Oliver recommends always searching for discount codes on coupons, which may not be advertised on a provider’s website. He also warns customers to be aware of extra costs created by additional features or activity thresholds.

5. Communication and messaging can be very helpful – don’t ignore it

Oliver feels that done well, the on-boarding communication a user receives during a trial can be a fantastic compliment to the overall user experience.

“This communication should be a gateway to different resources and an aid to the evaluation process, not just a sales pitch”.

Oliver states that although there can be a tendency to ignore on-boarding messaging, paying attention could help avoid significant trial, error and frustration. A variety of communication channels and styles is a good sign that a software program will be equipped to offer supporting information to suit you as a business person.

6. Consider more than just features and cost

If you’ve reached this point, you might ultimately have to choose between similar products with similar offerings at a similar price, so it’s important to consider wider aspects of your trial experience. As a final step before a purchase decision, Oliver recommends asking yourself the following questions:

– Was content useful and easy to find?
– How responsive and helpful was their support team?
– Were there any little things they did over and above providing software which delighted me?
– What do I think about the company and the people behind the software?
– Would I recommend this product to others?