Business continuity is a key concern for top company leaders.
The wisest of the wise know to consider software as part of continuity.
Software is crucial because it is so often business-critical. If your ERP goes down, or if your online ordering crashes, then your business screeches to an immediate halt. That’s a catastrophe no business can afford.
So it’s important to know what can put your business software continuity at risk. Here are some of the problems you’ll want to avoid:
When you purchase software—whether it’s Software as a Service (SaaS) or an ERP or a helpful tool for a niche purpose—you assume it will always be there. But that isn’t the case. Vendors sometimes disappear, and take your software with them.
Maybe it’s a startup that loses funding and collapses. Maybe it’s a company that gets bought up and merged with a different software product. Or maybe it’s a key contact at your vendor who leaves and takes helpful knowledge of your business processes with him or her.
So your business needs a plan for replacing key software. Know what’s on the market to replace key software, and if those options may work for your business. Having options will keep your business more secure in the long run.
Vendors Change Course
Sometimes, vendors don’t disappear, but they change their contracts or pricing structure in a way that makes them no longer a fit for your business.
If a vendor goes from flat-fee pricing to a charge per seat license, your P&L statements may require a change. Or if a vendor changes service offerings and remove the key process you rely on them to provide, you may have no choice but to find an alternative.
The change could also be linked to emerging technologies. How many companies have had to pivot because a vendor focused on wireless technology, or Bluetooth, or mobile? What new technologies coming down the pike will require similiar changes?
Your Business Changes
Maybe your software vendor is steady as can be, but your business changes and necessitates a change in software. For example, you create a new business process that isn’t supported by your existing technology stack. Suddenly, your software isn’t solving business-critical needs.
Or consider this scenario: you have one employee who knows your software stack inside and out. What happens if that employee suddenly can’t work any longer for medical reasons? Or if she takes a new job and leaves you with just two weeks to adjust? Or if he does something that leaves you no choice but to terminate his employment? In any of these cases, a software that seemed like a perfect fit may no longer be the right match for your business.
How to Protect Your Business
You don’t want your software stack to endanger business continuity. Here are some steps you can take to secure your business:
Ownership: Where possible, own your software. This may mean permanent licenses or long-term contracts. It may also mean custom software development that is your company IP. This ownership puts your business at less risk, and can actually become an asset on your balance sheet.
Diversification: Don’t rely on one employee to hold all knowledge of how your software works. Instead, create systems, processes, and documentation that will allow your company to keep moving when that one awesome employee moves on.
The same holds true for software vendors. Don’t get in a situation where one outside company can stymie your business. Have options of vendors, and make sure you own your code base for any custom web applications.
Customization: Make sure your apps and your software partners allow for customization, so that they can change with your business.
The bottom line is this: Your business needs should dictate how your software works, instead of the other way around. If your business is having to adjust to software, or is at risk of having to do so, then it’s time for a new approach. Contact Worthwhile to see how a new approach to software partnership could work for your business.