What You Need to Look for in a Sustainable Software Solution
Sustainable Software – The financial costs of your software may not be restrictive nor as expensive as they were in the past. However, there are still various costs associated with using software in the form of downtime, inefficiencies, out of date software packages and poor integration. This article looks at the recommended aspects of a sustainable software solution. This will be the process of selecting, using and then maintaining a selected range or interrelated group of software packages to run the business or enable hardware to conduct specific activities. Your choice must be sustainable in the sense that whatever software you choose must be able to be used for the long term and at the best financial cost to the business that you can find.
Table of Contents
Understand the Importance of Your Software
The first step in this process is to be able to clearly understand the importance of your software. Not only is software the instructions that make your hardware work. It is all about getting your computer hardware to work as efficiently as possible and ensuring that it does what you want when you want it to. Software is the building blocks of your entire IT system, and as the old saying goes – (GIGO) Garbage in and garbage out; if it is badly programmed and the software solution is unsustainable and inappropriate then your entire business or enterprise will not run or function as efficiently and effectively as it should.
Your business software can thus be the difference between the ability to compete with other businesses in your sector or losing business to them due to operational inefficiencies. It is your software that will be able to improve daily efficiencies by simplifying daily mundane tasks arguably allowing employees more time to focus on more important tasks. Yet software is also vital to keep your customers happy, as the right software will make customer communication and interaction a much easier and streamlined system.
Software is thus clearly the most important aspect of all business development and improvement.
Know Exactly What Software You Need
You will either need to make you own software or use what’s available out there for the business. This stage should not be rushed, and you will need to test the programs that exist and are currently being used by others in your sector. You also need to know of all the various alternatives that are available for the same or similar tasks or business functions and processes. There may be a range of similar programs or newer versions of the same software program. So, the process of making a specific choice as to which software is going to provide the most cost benefit can be a little more than a process of comparison and elimination. You will need to know what software solutions you need versus what software is available out there.
The PCB software design space is a great example, where the Altium Designer alternatives provide a range of different software packages and programs to create, design and produce your own PCBs. These may be alternatives to the well-used designer software being used but provide an alternative that can do the self-same tasks in a much easier and streamlined fashion and with more associated support and resources.The various ranges of software will be available for different processes inherent in this design journey. If you were in the PCB or associated component design business, then unless you know exactly which of these alternatives will work best for the business, you won’t be able to choose between them.
Understand the software that will enhance the business or the roles and tasks that could be better administered and completed with the appropriate software. Only then can you make a cogent and informed decision and choice. There are also a range of generic business software that most businesses will need, such as accounting, payroll and tax software, and these can be implemented and tested as soon as the business is up and running.
SaaS (Software as a Service)
Once you know and accept the software then you need to implement for your business success you need to think about how you intend to access and pay for this software. One of the most popular means of accessing the most up to date and advanced software in recent times has been to turn towards the system of Software as a Service.
Software as a service is where the software or application is available to use on a subscription service in the cloud and online without the need to actually purchase the software license or buy the actual application. It is the simplest way to sustainably source and procure the software that you need for your business. You will never have to install the software at a local level, simply have access online to use it. It is a web-based software distribution service and is also known as hosted software. Being able to access software in the cloud is one of the most sustainable ways to ensure that your business is able to compete with all those in your field. Having the ability to use the self-same software as the big players in your sector is one of the best ways to stay ahead and as such puts Software as a service as one of the most efficient and effective means of getting the precise basket of software that your business needs to function and compete at the highest level.
Software without associated support simply isn’t worth it, no matter how good it is. You don’t want to set your business up to use a specific program only to have it crash or for there then to be no help and support for any glitches you encounter. From software sourcing to purchase through the entire use cycle of the software, to replacement of the software, you need to be assured of professional and ongoing support. This has to be one of the chief concerns when choosing software for the long term.
For your software solution to be sustainable it must be able to effectively manage and run the business functions that you require as efficiently as possible. This will require you to have software specific support that can deal with any glitches or issues that relate to the use and management of the software.
If the software that your business uses is comparable to the oil in a vehicle, then just as you would check the oil in your motor, you need to have a system of ongoing maintenance and repair for your software to keep the business running smoothly. There have been recent surveys done that show that computer downtime has been the cause of a huge amount of lost time productivity for workers. This clearly shows the importance of proactive maintenance and support. It is sometimes too late to wait for the problem to develop and your software to fail to then call on your support services. Software support instead needs to an ongoing and prescheduled system of maintenance and proactive repair and improvement.
Be clear as to how this support will be provided and by whom before you agree to purchase or use any software.
All software that you use should be updated on an ongoing basis, look for this information to be shared at the very purchase stage and make sure automated updates aren’t going to cost you additional fees. Apart from the planned and scheduled updates there may also be additional patches that are made available, and these must be installed and used to ensure that the software you’re using is at its very best. The main reasons that software updates are essential:
- The most up to date software will allow foreasier online collaboration. Unless you are using the same software or software which is compatible with the latest resources available, you won’t be able to collaborate with those businesses that are. How many times have you heard a business accept that their software is outdated and that they won’t be able to work with you or collaborate together? It is highly unprofessional to have outdated versions of your software and will definitely affect the level of collaboration with others in your sector.
- Better mobility. Your work is able to travel better if it is saved and sent in a format that is secure and stable. Software that is up to date and current is a great deal more stable and will allow the work that you have done to be portable and easily transferred between business sectors and even entities.
- Improved security. Software vulnerabilities will allow cyber criminals to breach the security of the business and access what should be secure dataand company information. Ensuring that the software that you use is as up to date as possible and all possible breaches and insecurities have been patched and repaired to ensure that using the software is as safe as can be.
You need to know your budget
A lot of software is free, but you may only be getting the very minimal software services and support and a basic package. Thus, there are likely to be costs associated with using the top of the range software, ensure that you have budgeted for this. This is a common issue for emerging businesses, who need the business software and yet perhaps can’t afford the full version. So they go for a cheaper version or a lesser known software package only to realizethat either they don’t have full functionality or won’t be able to share the resultant work with others who have newer more expensive versions of the same software.
Read all independent reviews and recommendations
There is no better way to choose the right software than to read what other users have to say. Don’t pay much heed to the reviews on the software producer or distributors site but look for independent and impartial reviews that have been written by other users. Furthermore ensure that the reviewer has actually used the software, look for examples and use experiences that can be related to your own experiences with the software and be impartial until you have concrete proof as to the viability of the software in question.
For your software to be sustainable and used successfully you need the end user to be fully trained on its use methodologies and processes. This should be done by the software provider;they know the systems best. Often the software will come with a detailed wizard and it is advised that any user goesthrough this guide in as much detail as possible to ensure that they understand the software and all its intricacies. This training should also be ongoing and as soon as there has been an update to your software the users need to be trained and capacitated to understand these changes.
The ability to improve and add to the software development
The latest open-source software and applications have become known for allowing users to amend and improve the source code. Being able to make long lasting changes to software that you use and have experience with is one of the greatest ways to give back to the sector you’re in.
The best sustainablesoftware solution will only be achieved with a significant amount of research, testing, trial and a few errors. However, what this article has shown is that there is arguably nothing as important as keeping your software as current as you can and ensuring that you are abreast of all the modern Information technology opportunities for your business.
There is no way that a modern business will survive without the right basket of modern software. The choices you make for the business should be guided by the principles as discussed in this article, but the main piece of advice is to make sure that whatever software you look to implement has been fully vetted, tested and found to be an essential and important addition.