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Your Business’s Software Infrastructure: A Guide

#WOCinTech Chat: Need Your Website to Bring In More Money? Try These Tips

#WOCinTech Chat

We’re well into 2017 now, and one of the many things that this means is software is becoming more and more of a defining factor in the success of any small business. The software you use to streamline and manage the things that make your business tick is going to be one of the most important investments you’ll make when you’re trying to turn your idea into a tangible, profitable reality. Get it right, and it will make your job as CEO so much easier. Get it wrong, and it will become nothing but an expensive burden. If you’re finding the whole subject hard to wrap your head around, here’s our guide to equipping your business with all the right software.

Before you Buy

Before you invest a single penny in your business software, there are a number of important things you have to do. First and foremost, you need to look past the marketing hype, and figure out whether or not the software you’re investigating is really right for your situation. A lot of B2B software companies offer a month’s free trial of their programs, so I suggest you make the most of these. Getting this kind of hands-on experience with the program can save you from making a wasted investment. You may be able to find an open source equivalent to the software which can give you a clearer idea of what you’d be getting yourself into as well.

After finding a program that has the features you want, you should follow up by making sure that it has a decent support package. This isn’t much of a big deal when you’re using relatively simple and familiar programs. However, when it comes to more cutting-edge technology, with coding languages like live video SDK, you’ll seriously regret not paying out for the support package. Yes, these extra services may seem like an unnecessary expense when you make the transaction. However, when you encounter a major issue with the software and it slows your business operations to a crawl, you’ll be glad that you have some kind of support you can fall back on.

Compatibility with your current system is also a very important thing to consider. This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at the amount of small business owners who totally overlook compatibility, and then wind up living to regret it. There’s nothing more frustrating than buying something and realizing you can’t use it, so double and triple-check that your business’s existing tech infrastructure won’t have any issues with the software you’re planning on buying.

On the subject of being cost-effective, it can also be a smart move to look into SaaS alternatives to the programs you feel your business needs. If you weren’t already aware, SaaS (software-as-a-service) programs are versions of programs that allow you to pay for a certain amount of time, after which it’s disabled. There are a few advantages in this. First of all, it can work out much cheaper than paying out for the standardized versions of software. Secondly, technical support is usually wrapped up in the package. If you’re going to need the functions of a piece of software 24/7, then you’ll generally be better off investing in a more traditional alternative. However, if you only need the tool once in a while, SaaS could be the way to go.

Software You’ll Need

It’s obvious that any modern business is going to be dependent on software, but sometimes it can be hard to figure out exactly what you’ll need when you’re starting out. Having said that, there are certain universal tech tools that pretty much every business will need somewhere along the line…

Office suites are pretty much a necessity, including word processors, datasheet programs, email clients and slideshow programs. Some of the lesser-known (and sometimes more affordable!) packages also contain graphics suites and instant messaging programs. While things like Google Docs have made a lot of these functions free, there are various extra features in conventional office suites which need to be considered. Whatever option you go with, you’re going to need an office suite from the first day of trade!

Accounting Software, while not exactly necessary, is so useful in a lot of cases that overlooking it is almost like shooting yourself in the foot! Some good accounting software will make the life of any entrepreneur easier, helping them to stay on top of their finances, file their tax returns, and pick up on any glaring holes in the company’s cash flow. Accounting software has become much more popular in recent times, and as a result the whole niche is pretty oversaturated. However, doing your research and taking your time to go through impartial reviews should point you towards the right solution.

Cyber Security is a non-negotiable necessity, and depending on the amount of sensitive data your business is going to hold, could wind up costing a fair chunk of your budget. Ever since the very first computer virus was used in 1983, they have become the worst nightmare of business owners everywhere, and there have been many instances where a single security breach costs a great entrepreneur their livelihood. While a lot of viruses and instances of hacking are fairly benign, the ones that aren’t can have serious repercussions. Finding a good cyber security solution needs to be a priority.

Supply Chain Management has been the standard in countless industries for a while. Now, with the internet of things becoming a bigger and bigger talking point in commercial circles, this tech is only going to become more sophisticated and functional. Supply chain management software will allow you and your higher-ups to forecast the supply and demand you’ll be looking at in the months ahead, giving you a little more assurance that you’re paying suppliers on time, and that you’re getting paid by distributors. If you’re having trouble planning out how much of something your business should be producing, and the best way of transporting your stock from one point to another, then some good supply chain software is definitely a smart investment.

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    Kunbi Tinuoye
    Kunbi Tinuoye
    Kunbi Tinuoye is the founder and CEO of UrbanGeekz. Previously, she worked as a News Correspondent for NBC’s theGrio. Prior, she was a senior broadcast journalist for the BBC in London. Tinuoye currently sits on the SXSW Pitch Advisory Board and CES Conference Advisory Board. She is a key player in the Atlanta tech startup ecosystem and serves as a mentor for Comcast NBCUniversal’s The Farm Accelerator. Tinuoye has received several awards and accolades, including being honored with a Resolution from the Georgia Legislative.