You spent months (if not years) searching for the best software to do what your teams wanted. You devoted many hours speaking to your teams to get a list of requirements that you could then document as part of a tender. You evaluated suppliers, took up references and confirmed with procurement your chosen system was value for money. The software was installed – possibly with a few hiccups along the way – and you eventually went live. Your team are using it and your job is done.
You are constantly learning and evolving
Your business does not stand still. Changes in legislation, politics and environment can all have an impact. You are also constantly learning and adjusting as you discover new things. Add to this, the almost daily updates regarding technology and the release of new or upgraded equipment.
Given all this, it is extremely likely that the processes you followed two years ago are different – though in some instances it may only be slightly – to those you follow today. Your business goals and objectives have probably also been adjusted. But what about your software that underpins all this?
Every time you made a slight tweak to your processes or your business objectives did you check that your software should (and most importantly could if necessary) support it?
7 signs you have outgrown your existing software
For software to be successful it has to be used.
In order for it to be used it has to be relevant and support your users in their jobs. If your software has been used for over 2 years and not been reviewed or changed, then you probably should assess it to see if it is still fit for purpose.
How can you tell if it is still fit for purpose?
One simple way is to listen to your users. If they complain that ‘this software is slow’, ‘it is pointless entering this information as we don’t do anything with it’ or ‘we don’t do it like this anymore’, then this is a pretty good indicator it is not working for them or your business.
In addition, there are some other good early indicators that can also mean that your software is no longer working for you.
1. Your team is capturing information in spreadsheets
There may be valid reasons why your team captures information in spreadsheets. However, if your software was designed to capture data that is now being recorded somewhere else then you have an issue. It could be indicative of a number of possible problems, from your software being too slow, having too many screens to complete, or the additional fields or options needed are not available. If these challenges cannot be addressed in your current software, then it is time to consider something new.
2. You stop generating any reports from your software
If your software used to highlight trends, monitor productivity or identify non-compliance and you are no longer using it for this purpose then you may be devaluing it and its benefits. When you buy software, it is often not a one-off cost. You may have to pay annual support and maintenance costs to your supplier as well as cover your own internal maintenance overhead. When you are no longer able to use functions within the application, you should take the opportunity to re-assess the cost versus benefits gained.
3. You start to look at other systems to perform your processes that your existing system was previously doing
When you start looking to other systems to perform the same processes as your current software, this could indicate restrictions in adding new functionality or making any (or the necessary) changes. If you find it easier to select other systems to perform these functions rather than making the changes in your existing software, then it may be time for a change.
4. You have stopped making changes to your system
As mentioned earlier, your business is constantly evolving and any software underpinning it will have to change (no matter how small) to meet your new demands. If you have stopped making changes to your software it could mean that you no longer see this software as critical to your business operations.
5. You are spending a lot of your time consolidating data from multiple systems
This is not a message about integrating all your systems into one application.
However, if there are systems that have all the functionality you need, it may be more cost effective to use these rather than having the expense of managing and maintaining multiple applications.
6. Your team are working to different processes
Your software should be supporting your users. If your users are working around your software because it does not work how they work, this can not only be expensive but impact consistency and quality in your operations.
7. Your software supplier has stopped issuing updates to functionality and is now only bug fixing (and sometimes not even that)
If your software supplier has stopped enhancing the product, and in some instances is not even supporting the product, it is probably wise to start looking for a replacement.
A final thought
Deciding whether you have outgrown your software is about assessing it to ensure it continues to bring valuable benefits to your business and is cost-effective.
Your software could be more than 10 years old, but if your supplier is regularly providing enhancements, supporting the latest technologies and you can make any changes your users need to fulfil their jobs, then it is still valid.
For any software to be valuable it must first be valued and that requires regular review to ensure it continues to meet the needs of your business and users.