10 Signs Your Company is Ripe for Software Innovation

Are you looking around at the tech landscape wondering how you can take advantage of the innovations you’re seeing? Are you wondering if it’s time to trade in your legacy software and join the 21st century?

These questions are at the forefront of most business leaders’ minds. New technology products pop up on the market every day, and we’re only in the early stages of learning how disruptive fields like AI and machine learning will change the way we do business.

Former IBM magnate Andrew Heller famously said, “Technology is like a fish. The longer it stays on the shelf, the less desirable it becomes.” Still, even if your software system has been around for a few years, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to scrap it for the latest and greatest product you can find. New for the sake of new is rarely a wise business decision.

So how do you know when it’s time to pull the plug on your old system and invest in software innovation? Here are ten telltale signs.

1. You’re ready to scale your business

Whether you’re growing internally (more employees) or externally (more customers), you need to evaluate whether your current technology can handle the influx of data. Data forms the basis for business decisions, customer service, employee productivity, and almost everything else that happens in your company everyday. If you don’t have the software you need to collect, store, and retrieve that data efficiently, you won’t be able to reach your full growth potential.

2. You’re adding a new location (or several)

This often goes hand in hand with scaling your business, and it has many of the same ramifications. More data, more demand, more information to store and manage. The right software can help you manage inventory more efficiently, standardize processes across multiple locations, and optimize productivity.

3. You don’t trust your data when making decisions

Only 51 percent of executives have full confidence in the data and analytics strategy at their company. And only 10 percent of organizations believe they have excellent quality data, tools, and methods. That’s a problem, especially since most companies believe that accurate data is vital to making good business decisions. The first step in building a better D&A culture at your company is to implement the right data solutions and tools to store, manage, and analyze your data. That starts with making sure you have a strong architecture in place, integrated data management tools, and a codified process for data entry, storage, and retrieval. If your legacy software is tossing up roadblocks at any point in that process, it can keep you from gaining the insights you need to make effective business decisions.

4. Your ERP can’t track the KPIs you need

If you implemented your ERP ten years ago, you may not have the functionality to track KPI’s that matter for today’s business decisions. You may be tracking this data manually, or you may be using third party companies to track it for you. Either way, you could save both time and money by bringing those tasks in-house and automating them.

5. You spend disproportionate amounts of time on administrative tasks

Automation can relieve much of the administrative burden that eats up your time each week. From customer relationship management to recruiting to data management, the right software can save you time and money by freeing your staff to focus on the critical needs of your business. For example, you can use automation to screen resumes by matching keywords with your job description rather than sorting through hundreds of resumes and applications by hand. You can also automate email responses to customer inquiries to get the ball rolling with your support team. Efficiency allows your team to focus on the critical things that only good employees can do, instead of on the menial tasks that even a machine can do.

6. You want to explore new tech possibilities, but your software can’t handle it

Tech experts predict that innovations like AI, machine learning, and IoT will soon become standard practice in most companies. If you’re in manufacturing, for example, IoT solutions for monitoring equipment productivity and line profitability will become a necessity if you want to stay competitive. That’s just one of many possibilities. But you can’t add innovative technologies on top of an outdated legacy system without a lot of friction. If your current software can’t easily integrate with new technologies (or if you have so many integrations that you can’t upgrade for fear of breaking something), it’s time to consider a new solution.

7. You’re experiencing productivity bottlenecks

When your technology and processes can’t keep up with demand, you experience bottlenecks. As your current methods for capturing data, communicating, and staying on top of project needs continually fall behind, you may miss deadlines, drop leads, or be slow to fill orders. Whether your productivity bottlenecks happen on the supply chain side (causing challenges with inventory management, production capacity, and shipping) or the customer relationship side (causing unsatisfactory customer experiences), you’ll feel the squeeze as you struggle to meet your business goals and reach your potential.

8. Your software isn’t supported anymore

At some point, supporting old software is no longer profitable for the vendor, and so they either drop support, charge more for it, or sell the old software to a new company that jacks up support rates. As a result, keeping your old software results in your company being held hostage by a third party that is looking to extract every penny it can out of your coffers. So when your software is deprecated (no longer supported), it is often more cost effective to invest in new software rather than continuing to patch up the old system.

9. You need mobile capability, but your software can’t integrate with it

Now we’re not even talking about cutting-edge software innovations. We’re just talking about a feature every customer now expects.. Setting aside the fact that most employees want (and some even expect) the technology they use at work to be on par with their personal technology, mobile support and applications give your company the flexibility to enter and access data in the field, maintain communication remotely, and record customer interactions anywhere. Unfortunately, if your software is outdated, making it mobile may be virtually impossible.

10. You have processes that are controlled by paper rather than software

Whether you’re talking about approvals, applications, reports, compliance documents, or financials, paper processes are more prone to error and inefficiency. They are also less secure than data stored digitally. Your system should support informed, efficient business processes and decisions in every part of your organization. A new system can make your employees more productive and keep your data safe.

Conclusion: When Is New Software the Right Move?

New software isn’t necessarily always the right move. Sometimes your old system functions just fine, but needs a new integration or a version upgrade. Before you launch a software development project, ask these questions:
* Do we know what specific objectives we’re trying to accomplish?
* Have we carefully mapped out our requirements?
* Have we calculated the cost of ongoing maintenance and upgrades?
* Can we accomplish our objectives with an upgrade or integration rather than a brand new system?
* If we invest in a new system, can it scale as our company grows?
* Can we customize the software based on our processes?
* Have we developed a realistic scope and timeline?

New software can make you more profitable by helping you get work done more efficiently, keeping your equipment functioning at full capacity, and removing the frustrations that waste your employees’ time each day.

The bottom line is this: If your technology has become a hindrance to your company rather than an effective tool, it’s time to replace it.

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