The hidden cost of poor software

Find out why software that you have to 'bend to fit' could be costing your business more than you think; and why there might be a better way.

Business applications can make or break your business operations on a daily basis. We often take a great application for granted because it’s easy to use and delivers the reports and analytics that we need, when we need them. But on the flip side, working with software that’s not quite fit for purpose might have a higher cost than you think.

In business, like in the rest of life, we all look for low-cost solutions to the problems we face. Whether we’re looking for a system to manage our time, our staff, our contacts, our price catalogue, our marketing data or our website content – most of us will look for an off-the-shelf solution that fits. Often there is something, and that’s great. But what about when there isn’t? Or at least not quite.

Making do with systems that waste time & money

It isn’t until you’ve lived with an application that you really get a feel for whether it’s a good fit or not. Often, it seems okay to start with, then you find that it doesn’t quite do what you need it to, and it’d be great if it had two or three additional features, but you’ve got it now and you end up making do. Most companies that can’t face the prospect of a forklift move to another platform, and so implement work-arounds to accommodate shortcomings in the software.

Take on unsuitable software and before you know it, day to day processes become based on work-arounds and it’s not too long before there isn’t really a right way to use the application any more as long as the desired outcome is achieved. And because the job is getting done, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the cost of using a force-fit application increases rapidly, as users spend time unpicking issues or inadvertently creating them, potentially impacting customers and revenues. Meanwhile, training new users becomes more art than science.

The cost increases rapidly, as users spend time unpicking issue or creating new ones - potentially impacting customers and revenues.

I heard of one company who use a piece of quoting software that actually changes the figures entered into it once the job is saved – so that unless the user is wise to it, it takes accurate figures and outputs quotes that are wrong. Hard to credit. But rather than change the system, for a long time they just told new trainees “Oh yeah, you have to go back into the job after you’ve saved it and correct that figure and that figure”. Really?! Bad software = lost time and, worse, lost revenue.

Sometimes custom-built is the right solution

What makes the right application for you is dependent on your specific needs, which is the most crucial point of all. It can be very tempting to deploy what appears to be a cheap, or even free, off the shelf application that runs in the cloud. And while it’s true to say that there are some excellent examples, one size rarely fits all, and if you need something more specific, don’t be tempted to bend something to fit. Whether you’re managing data in spreadsheets because you can’t envisage a system that would do what you need, or struggling because you need to integrate with existing systems, custom applications could be the answer.  

In our experience, a customised or bespoke application brings the greatest business benefits due to being developed to match your specific needs, both today and with an eye on the future.

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