When’s the last time you actually read through the entire user manual for new software? Some experts estimate that about 90 percent of software features go unused—meaning that customers aren’t taking full advantage of their investment. Software isn’t cheap and budgets are tight, so you want to maximize your dollars by using your investment to its full potential. That begins before implementation and doesn’t end until after you’ve discontinued using a product.
Research Thoroughly before Purchasing
The next greatest technology might be the perfect solution for many businesses—but before you jump on the bandwagon and blow your technology budget, make sure it’s the right solution for your company. Most technology suppliers offer web-based demos to give you an idea of how an application works before you decide whether to invest.
Bring in key members of your team, including at least one person who will be using the devices or applications the most, for a broad consensus of how a new technology will meet your needs. Find out whether new applications have been integrated seamlessly with other third-party software in the past.
Most importantly, choose scalable software where you can. Scalable software solutions help you maximize your investment, because you’re only paying for the resources you actually use in a given month, instead of shelling out thousands of dollars for an advanced system when you’ll only use a small percent of those resources. Ask questions and bring up potential objections—there’s often a workaround for what could be a common problem that you won’t know about unless you ask.
Ask for Implementation and Installation Support
If you’re making a heavy investment in technology solutions for your company, suppliers might be willing to send an on-site consultant to help you install and setup your applications. This is a perfect opportunity to get essential staff familiarized with utilizing new applications with advice from someone experienced in using it on a daily basis. This kind of initial training will ensure that you’re maximizing your investment by making full use of all the features and benefits available.
In the first few weeks after installation, keep in contact with your suppliers. Ask your team members to document bugs and any issues they encounter, and bring them back to the supplier for answers. You’ll likely find that there are easy solutions to many of the initial problems you experience, and once you get past the learning curve you’ll be better positioned to get the most from your investment.
Take Advantage of Training Opportunities
Many major software suppliers offer web-based or even on-site training to help you maximize your investment. Whether you’ve just started using an application or you’re looking for more ways to utilize the more advanced features, check with your vendor to see if there are upcoming webinars or even past written training materials that can help your team learn to make efficient use of technologies.
Sign up for product updates and other news from your technology suppliers, as well. You might get a discount on future products or be first in line to try a new Beta version of the latest developments. These notifications will also keep you up-to-date on software updates and other pertinent information that can help you run your technology at optimal performance. Always sign up for free webinars even if you can’t attend. In many cases, hosts will email you the slides and audio recording so you can listen at your leisure—and there are usually at least a few valuable tidbits to be gleaned from these sessions, whether from tips the presenters point out or questions other attendees ask during the event.
If you’re planning to invest in new technology, don’t let your budget go to waste. Choose wisely, ask questions and take advantage of every opportunity for initial and continued training. Doing so will help you maximize your investment and get the most out of every application you use.
“Robert Stanley is a content producer for ClickSoftware’s gartner magic quadrant for field service management, a field service management software
company which also offers a variety of resources on capacity planning and mobile business apps.