I love birthdays! I love birthdays so much that I celebrate monthly birthdays. It’s a tradition my dad started when I was little. Every month on the 22nd day of the month I celebrate a “Monthly Birthday”. I used to think that everyone did. Whenever I mention it to someone they look at me as if to say, “Are you for real?” But hey – it works for me. When you think about it, it’s a lot like that with software.
Staffing software offers a multitude of choices. You can get a basic “front office only” product or a “complete front and back office”. You can host yourself or have your application hosted. Some software is subscription and some is not. There are robust products with lots of features and options and then you have the plainer ones. But the choice is not difficult to make. The answer is to simply choose the software that is right for you.
Before we set up a demonstration for our staffing software solution, we hold a discovery meeting with the prospect. The purpose of the discovery meeting is to determine whether or not we should move forward with the demo. It’s not about what our software has, it’s about what the prospect needs. It’s important that our software is a good fit for the prospect’s needs. If it is not a good fit, then there is no point in proceeding with the demonstration.
Larger organizations always send in an “RFI” or Request for Information. This is a detailed document that poses a list of questions about what the software can do. It is clear that the company has spent a great deal of time exploring what their needs are. It is a way of surfacing all of the business problems that need a solution. This is what we try to do with the discovery meeting. In moving through this type of process most businesses will find that there is much that could be done better.
How do you know what you need? Some things will be obvious. Other items not so much. It’s always best to check out each department and ask what everyone is doing. Many times you will see immediate issues that should be addressed such as time-consuming manual functions prone to error; lots of unnecessary paperwork; poor habits that lead to customer service issues; lack of marketing activity or inefficient marketing and more.
Some questions to pose: Are multiple non-integrated software applications being run? Is there a lot of double entry or worse no entry into a system? Is enough information being gathered on prospects, clients and candidates? Are employees painstakingly entering data into spreadsheets in order to get business reporting? How difficult is it to get accurate business reporting? How is customer service? Can software improve some aspects of customer service? Are sales being lost because of inefficiencies or lack of follow-up? When someone leaves the company or is out of the office does information stay with your firm or go with the person?
Once you have determined what problems you need to solve, it’s time to look at software in order to determine which software is best at solving your particular problems. It is also good to think about a budget. A budget cannot be established until you determine how much revenue may be gained and what expenses could be reduced. The budget is totally reliant on what you will gain.
Once you have found software that will address your needs, you can begin to compare technology. Do you want to host your own data and software? Much of the answer is reliant on how comfortable you feel with the internet and having your data on a server that is not within your control. If the concept of having your software hosted off site appeals to you, then the next thing to look at is who can host it? Will the software manufacturer host or will your software and data be stored on an independent hosting site? Next, do you purchase a subscription to use the software or pay an up-front license to use the software? Estimate how many years you think you will use the software and forecast your company’s growth. This will allow you to weigh the cost of subscription vs. non-subscription. Also be careful to check what is included in your monthly subscription fee. Are data backup services provided? Can you call with technical questions and or get troubleshooting as part of the subscription fee?
The best software is the one that is best for you. It is important to research your business needs first. After that it is simply a matter of understanding a bit about technology, what it offers and of course cost to implement. But remember, the equation should always include the cost of no action.
Terri Roeslmeier is President of Automated Business Designs, Inc., software developer of Ultra-Staff software for the staffing and direct hire industry. Ultra-Staff is a staffing softwarebusiness solution that helps you stay connected with components for front office, back office and the web. For more information on Ultra-Staff go to http://www.abd.net.