What is software? And why is it important to your business?
Think of software as the glue that binds your business processes to the hardware that your business uses to gain a competitive advantage. The better the glue, the better the competitive advantage. All too often software is relegated into the realms of necessary evil or unnecessary expense. However, if we think of it as the vital bit of business technology that it is, we can utilize it to gain competitive advantage. Conversely, when neglected and ignored, it acts as an anchor holding us back.
If we consider software to be part of our competitive advantage in the business space we operate within, then having the most effective software becomes key. The common mantra of Update Often can work against us. This is because, it’s often necessary to make sure that the processes, procedures, staff training and hardware are all capable of utilizing the software to the maximum. There is no competitive advantage in having software that nobody knows how to use effectively.
To that end, it is vital that software updates and upgrades (we’re not making any distinction), becomes part of a comprehensive business strategy.
So the rule of thumb should really be Update Deliberately.
It should be noted that there are many traps that a business can fall into, with regards to software, particularly with established businesses and an existing infrastructure. Perhaps the most fundamental is not installing and using the upgrades/updates that have been paid for under a maintenance contract. This can be for a variety of reasons, such as incorrect hardware, lack of training, unappreciated benefits of the new system. The list goes on, but will ultimately boil down to the key list at the beginning of the article.
The next, is utilizing software that was written for a different purpose. For example, that in house stock control system, was designed and written before the company switched to radio beacons on the products. The operators are now manually converting the current reality into the way the software was originally designed. Failing to use the barcodes on products is another example of this. For the software and technology in general to be a critical competitive advantage, it needs to be as smooth and seamless as possible.
Periodically, every business needs to look at their current needs, project out into the future and try to understand their future needs and discuss with someone who understand the options and possibilities. Only then can new ways of working be planned, adopted and embraced.
Most businesses understand what they want to do going forward, but very few have the expertise to sit down and map those wants and needs into actual software products and development. This is exactly where a consultancy comes into play. By understanding the current options and the developing options, new ways of working become possible.
Let’s take as an example the partners in a legal firm, they’re looking forward and want to be progressive. Currently, they have a mix of laptops and desktop computers, some people have both. Files are stored on the local server in the office (main site, other location connect to the server via a VPN).
Each partner is given a Microsoft Surface 3 Pro, they have an external screen, keyboard and mouse connected to the docking station. When at the desk, the partner uses the external full sized peripherals. When leaving for a meeting, they simply undock the Surface and have everything they needs at their fingertips. Any case related files can be synchronized to the device for court appearances or for work with clients out of the office. This is a new way of working. It gives tangible benefits over the old way, by being less error prone, cultivating a professional image and being more reliable.
The focus in any business should be on having the right tool for the job, this means the right software for the job. The job is whatever task is being completed at the moment.
A custom solution might mean taking several off the shelf packages and integrating them together into a workflow or set of workflows. It might mean adding in some custom software. It could mean both.
The important thing, that the software acts as a glue to help the process and procedures which underpin the business work on the machines.
Microsoft released a new version of Windows, at the end of July 2015, Windows 10. This is where companies are beginning to put their development effort. In a few short weeks, there have been over 350,000,000 or 350 million installations of the new operating system. It is gaining significant traction both with home users and business users. This along with Office 2016, could be one of your competitive advantages, if implemented correctly. Remember, you don’t need to be first to gain some advantage, but when you’re trailing, you’re at a disadvantage.
Cost is not the most important consideration, getting the best value for the business is! This implies, that purchase price, or ongoing costs, if this is part of a subscription is only part of the equation. Cost needs to be factored in with productivity, so the Cost/Productivity ratio is the important factor. When considering this, different solutions might become optimal. Or possibly optimal at the moment, nothing is set in stone and even then, we can change that.
DVANA supply all types of software for complete business solutions, so please call 0333 006 3800 now to see how we can help you.