How to Choose Between Bespoke and Off-The-Shelf Applications
Selecting the best business management tools for your small business can be tricky. If your new systems don’t integrate with your existing software deck, you’ll end up working harder to move data between disparate platforms.
Luckily, there are all-in-one business management tools that come loaded with everything your growing business needs. Best of all, these packages integrate seamlessly. This guide will show you which ones are the best and how to choose between custom software and ready-made solutions.
What Is Business Management Software?
Business management software is an app or a set of programs that streamlines and executes a variety of business functions such as data tracking, scheduling, employee management, etc.
In short, it combines enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, human resource, and accounting functionality in one simple software system.
Companies of all sizes can benefit from investing in business management software that manages all the essential business processes in one system.
Benefits of Business Management Software System:
- Process efficiency. Reduce menial tasks and manual data entry errors with process automation that provides reliable business information for all employees.
- Time and cost savings. Reduce significant IT costs with easy to set up applications that deploy rapidly and require minimal upkeep.
- Real-time visibility. Track all your business data and processes across your organization in one platform that provides instant insights.
- Scalability. These software solutions scale to meet your growing business needs. Adding more features, users, and sales channels are easy.
How to Choose the Right Small Business Management Software
There’s a lot to choose from on the market. Most importantly, you need to pick the solution that best fits your needs. Going deeper, though, you should make sure your small business management software has the following features:
- Time tracking capabilities
- Task management
- Sales and CRM
- Resource management
- Budget management
- File storage and sharing
- Business intelligence and dashboards
You need to document your business processes first to identify areas where management software can help improve them. This makes it easier for you to explain your requirements to potential suppliers.
Keep in mind that as your business grows, your requirements may change and you may need more advanced features in the future.
Once you have a list of your needs, compare that with the features included in each package. Reject all software packages that don’t provide your “must-have” requirements.
You should choose an affordable business management software solution that has the biggest number of necessary and “nice to have” features. Don’t forget to consider additional costs such as maintenance costs, future software upgrade costs, and the costs of hardware upgrades.
8 Best Software for Small Business
These small business management software solutions cover almost everything: collaboration, invoicing, customer relationship management, project management, marketing, and more. This list should get you started on finding the perfect solution for your business.
Bitrix24 offers more than 35 tools for management, communication, and social collaboration in one suit. It’s free for 12 users and both Android and iOS apps are free as well.
The software has a large set of features and there are apps for CRM, project management, document management, business processes automation, email marketing, invoicing, and more.
WORK[etc] is all in one cloud-based business management solution with a lot of scalable features for small and medium-sized businesses. It has integrated CRM, project management, sales and marketing, help desk, and invoicing modules.
The software also supports collaboration between project management, finance, sales, marketing, and support teams. There are apps for iOS and Android so you can access the system even on the go.
Apptivo is a cloud sales and marketing tool for small businesses and freelancers. It can connect sales, procurement, supply chain, financials, and marketing into a single app.
All features of Apptivo are completely accessible for iOS and Android devices. Apptivo is integrated with Office365 & G Suite. The tool offers invoice and reporting features but you need to buy separate accounting software.
Zoho One is a suite of tightly integrated business and productivity apps that you can use to automate business processes, collaborate and communicate with your team.
There are more than 40 mobile, native, and web apps in a single offering that can help small businesses run all aspects of their operations – improving sales, marketing products, control back-end processes, and more. It offers a large number of high-end features and customization options.
Scoro is a web-based business management solution with a user-friendly interface that helps to streamline work and avoid performing routine tasks.
It combines a wide range of features you may need to manage your company: project management, financial management, work scheduling, detailed reporting and custom dashboards, CRM.
Users can add custom fields to practically all features and create custom templates for reports, orders, invoices, and quotes.
BlueCamroo is powerful all in one business process automation software for solopreneurs and small businesses that can help them manage their contacts, sales leads, customers, projects, and opportunities.
It combines CRM, time tracking, project management, email marketing, social media monitoring, billing and invoicing. It integrates with different third-party apps and online payment gateways. You can customize user interface themes and create emails, invoices, and project templates.
Odoo is a comprehensive suite of integrated business apps that cover all your company needs. This open-source software includes several thousands of modules for manufacturing, sales, CRM, human resource management, project management, website builder, eCommerce, and more.
All apps are perfectly integrated with each other so you can start with one application and add other modules later and fully automate all your business processes. You can customize the user interface, business processes, workflows, and reports.
NetSuite offers a scalable cloud-based solution for small businesses that are able to meet the evolving requirements of modern fast-growing companies.
The highly flexible and customizable software can help you manage the core business processes with a fully integrated system that covers enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, HR, financials, inventory, e-commerce, and more.
It offers comprehensive functionality with industry-specific support for a wide range of industries.
Custom-Built vs Off-the-Shelf Software for Small Business
What’s better for your business? Ready-made solutions or bespoke business management software? Here are the pros and cons of each.
Pros and Cons of Off-the-Shelf Business Management Software
Off-the-shelf business management software is a product for the mass market. It’s made for a wide audience of users across a variety of industries. This means it’s ready to use right away at an affordable price. Usually, they charge a monthly subscription fee. And some are even free to try out. Overall, this makes them a great, affordable option.
While off-the-shelf software products typically offer a lot of features, they’re not specifically designed for your business. As a result, you may end up paying for features you never use. And if you have very specific needs, you may not find what you need in a prepackaged application suite. Plus, the functionality of packaged software may not be exactly what you need.
The biggest downside is that as your business grows, you may outgrow your platform. And this means you’ll need to look for other, more scalable solutions as your business becomes more successful.
Pros and Cons of Custom Business Management Software
Custom business management software is developed specifically for your company. You’ll pay more. And you’ll need more time to implement it. But you’ll get a lot more value out of it.
One thing to consider (regarding costs) is that while initial costs will be higher, it could be less expensive over time. Off-the-shelf-solutions have license fees, upgrade fees, and user fees that add up over time.
Other Benefits of Bespoke Business Management Software:
- Maximum flexibility: You can develop features and functionality that support specific workflow needs.
- Source code ownership: This allows you to add new features and change your custom software to keep up with your growing business.
- More Secure: Custom software is unique for your company so it features a higher level of security.
- Cheaper to integrate: custom business management software directly integrates with your existing and future processes.
- More Scalable: Custom software’s flexibility means it can grow, adapt, and evolve to meet the dynamic needs of your business.
How to Choose the Best Software Solution
Whether you go with custom or off-the-shelf software depends on where your business is and where you want it to go. That’s why it’s crucial to map out your business needs before adopting a new platform.
Remember that no solution is permanent. Whatever decision you make, you should always evaluate your business systems regularly to see if your existing business management software is doing the job it needs to do.