From XU Magazine, 
Issue 36

Choosing New Software? Expert Tips on How to Win

With a cacophony of options in the market, choosing a new software system for your business can be an intimidating prospect.

Edward Fyvie of 5e Management Services is a business systems consultant with a long history of helping Australasian businesses choose the right systems to grow their revenue.
This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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Recently, with the announcement of WorkflowMax retiring, he’s been fielding a surge of requests to help evaluate and choose a suitable project management tool replacement.

In this article, we share Edward’s expert insights on how he goes about helping his clients evaluate and select the right software for their needs. In four simple steps, he recasts decision making from daunting to easy and actionable, empowering businesses to confidently make informed choices.

Before delving into these handy tips, let’s explore what makes decision-making so tricky. Marketing psychology and behavioural economics would put it down to decision fatigue or ego depletion.  

These theories suggest that cognitive overload caused by an abundance of options and information can lead to decision avoidance (not choosing anything) or irrational impulse purchasing (making costly suboptimal choices).

Nestled deep in a labyrinth of offers and advertisements spanning across all channels, it’s inevitable that decision fatigue will become an inescapable companion. So, how do you break free from the risk of making the wrong call and methodically choose the right business system?

Step 1: Self-Discovery

Choosing the right business system is just like dating – being clear on what you want from a potential partner first is the key to finding the ideal business system match.

So, start with some planning and a little introspective self-reflection. Write down what type of business you are, what you want to achieve, and what your criteria are for selecting a partner. For example, are you providing a service? Are you distributing? Are you in industrial fabrication and installation, or are you a healthcare business? What you do and who your customers are will determine which system is suitable.

For example, if you’re in the service industry and bill professional services without having to worry about any stock items, Xero may just be your perfect match. On the other hand, if you’re in the distribution industry – importing or locally sourcing items, and holding inventory for resale – you might need an inventory control add-on.

One such add-on that Edward recommends to his clients is TidyStock; a stock management software with seamless Xero integration.

He has helped apply TidyStock in different industries and says, “Combined with a common sense look at business processes, the system improves transaction rates, lowers the waste of time and material, and improves traceability and accounting accuracy.”

Step 2:  Data Needs

Once you’ve locked down your business plan, the next step is to dig deep and identify your information needs. Ask yourself, “What do I need the system to communicate with me?” Because let’s face it, communication is key in any relationship, especially with software. Good software gives you great reporting and data to help you make improvements.

Focus solely on the most necessary, useful, and sufficient information needed to run your business. For example, crucial financial data like real-time sales figures, inventory levels, and expenses. Keep it short and sweet by avoiding unnecessary complexity and only listing the essential elements.  

Now, it’s time for some capability checks. Ensure the add-on communicates smoothly with Xero and has a user-friendly front-end.  

TidyWork, the project management counterpart to TidyStock, is another application Edward recommends to clients for its effortless integration with Xero.

“It’s got a bi-directional information flow with Xero. I found this to be a significant advantage in limiting duplication and errors of invoicing by different people.”

Furthermore, look for operational information that simplifies your day-to-day work. See if it has the ability to enable effective 2D management reporting to the Profit & Loss (P&L) level in Xero.  

Step 3: Technical and Application Support

As you venture into the third step, Edward recommends considering the technical and application support available for a smooth and effective onboarding experience.

Ask yourself practical questions: Will the application be a dependable partner, helping you configure the system to suit your business model? Is there user training available, including onboarding, implementation, support, and a comprehensive product academy?

Look for online help, including text and video resources, to make the most of the system’s features and enhance your business’s efficiency.

Examples of this include the Xero Central support centre and Tidy’s help documentation hub, TidyAcademy. These platforms provide multimedia training content to help users learn how to use each product in a self-service fashion.

Further factors to think about are: Does the system provide effective, timely support from knowledgeable human representatives? No offense to offshore chatbots and third-party scripts, but nothing beats a human touch. If you are transitioning from other systems, consider the ease of the conversion process.

Step 4: Reference Check

Edward’s final step, a bit like checking out a restaurant’s reviews before booking a table, is to dig into references. It’s always a smart move to cover your bases and make sure the system has a solid track record of enhancing businesses like yours.

You’ll want to know the size of the user base and whether you can connect with other users in similar businesses for some “business gossip” and share experiences. These references will give you valuable insights into the system’s performance and reliability, straight from the users’ mouths. A little insider information never hurts!  

Terry from Ausreman, a user of TidyStock, says of the system, “The out of the box integration with Xero is seamless and drives excellent compliance for any warehouse manager and accountant.”

Seeing this instills confidence while reducing perceived purchase risk for prospective customers.

Choose with Confidence

Edward’s four tips provide a stepladder to escape the abyss of decision fatigue and choose the right business system. On the first rung, get to understand your business model. Then ascend to identify information needs and ensure the availability of support, then finally, reach the final step of checking references for valuable insights.

In the blaring marketplace, cut through the noise by systematically honing in on your unique requirements to carve out a clear path to the perfect system for your business.

Why leave it there?

To find out more about how you can make your business Tidy

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