When you first start a business, so much of your time is devoted to figuring out the processes, workflows and procedures that you need to keep moving forward in the most efficient way possible. After a while, you figure out what "works for you" and you work hard to maintain that momentum. But what a lot of people forget is that as the business continues to grow, it often outgrows the processes that helped support it back during those early, smaller days.
As you add additional staff members and more people become involved in those processes, they naturally seem to become less efficient over time. But you also have to ask yourself: is it always the process that's slowing your people down, or is it the tools you're using to act on those processes?
According to a wide range of different studies, growing too slowly can be just as deadly for a small business as growing at a rate you cannot sustain. The fact of the matter is that your off-the-shelf software - otherwise known as the tools you're using to prop up those processes - plays a much more important role in your efficiency level than you might think.
The Problem With (Off-the-Shelf) Software
When you purchase a piece of off-the-shelf software when your business is still in its early stages, it may work well for your organization as it exists today. But it's hardly built to scale - this is not a flaw, this is a feature. To appeal to the widest possible audience, traditional software needs to be something of a "Jack of all Trades." It needs to do a many things as it can, but it doesn't have to do any of them particularly well.
So what happens is your software solution that "works well enough" when you're small slowly but surely begins to hold your people back as you grow. They're spending so much time coming up with workarounds for countless issues that they don't have the brainpower to devote to actually helping your business evolve. Your organization may have scaled, but the software didn't scale with them. Because it was never meant to.
With custom software, however, suddenly your people have access to a solution that was built specifically with them in mind. Not only is it reliable enough to allow them to maximize productivity and efficiency in your business' current state, but it's also flexible and agile enough to continue to support them as their needs change. It's easy to scale because it was designed with scalability in mind.
In a sense, your people will spend less time figuring out how to get their software to do what they need it to do because it was literally built to do those things in the first place. There are no lengthy and frustrated workarounds needed. They have the assets they need to be as efficient as possible, which means the same is true for your organization.
You Should Always Be Moving Forward
In the end, it's important to remember that every last one of your business processes should be built to preserve the two most precious resources you have: time and money. But it's also necessary to understand that the business you're running today is very different from the state it was in a year ago, to say nothing of the changes that are lurking just over the horizon.
This in and of itself highlights one of the many dangers of off-the-shelf software. It simply cannot grow and evolve as your business does the same, which means that at a certain point it will begin to slow your business down instead of drive it forward.
If you feel like your current software is holding your business back, the chances are high you might be right. You should absolutely sit down with a software developer to discuss your needs because while it's true that this is a major problem, it's also one with a straightforward answer just waiting to be taken advantage of.
About the Author
Lance Keene, the founder of Keene Systems,
has 40 years’ experience in custom software development.
Over the course of his career he and his team have written software for companies such as Mack Trucks,
Bayer, Calvin Klein, Hershey, IBM, Kimberly Clark, Lindt, Sara Lee, Pfizer, BAE, L'oreal, Ocean Spray, Dana Farber, Tootsie Rolls, Guiness, Texas Instruments, and CVS.
(see full client list)
If you'd like to learn more about custom software alternatives to your current IT problems, you can speak one-on-one with Lance
about your specific problem to see what's possible.
Fill out our contact page
or just book a call time in Lance’s online calendar: