Ten Tips for Getting the Most From Your Software

The cost of changing software is high.Before you decide to throw away what you’re using now, be sure you evaluate what you can do to get more from your existing software.
And if you’re pretty happy with your software, our experience shows that you can always get a little more benefit from it.
Here’s a list of my top 10 things you can do to get more from your software:

  • Review the training, users manual, or help text. Every time I take the time to read a book about software that I think I know, I learn something new. Most of the time, it’s something I can use immediately.
  • Talk to an expert about how you do things with your software. Everyone has habits. That’s true of the way we use software as well. Often there are several ways to do something with a piece of software. Are you sure you chose the best one? Ask someone that knows your software well to take a look at how you are doing common tasks. You’ll probably get a dozen suggestions that improve your productivity.
  • Make a list of 10 pieces of information you wish you had. Figure out how to get them from your software.
  • Make a list of 5 things employees in your business should be doing. Find out how to measure them with your software.
  • Look at the things you are doing with Excel and ACCESS. For each one, ask yourself these questions: Am I doing these because of a limitation in my software? How much time does it take me to do these things manually? Is it possible that I missed something in the software that could help me?
  • Start a list of the things you wish your software could do. Do a Google search for keywords and see if you can find free or nearly free software to do those things.
  • Examine the processes you are using in your business. For each one, ask, “Why do we do this in this way?” If you don’t know the answer, or (especially) if the answer is, “That’s the way we’ve always done it,” then try to redesign the process to make it more efficient. Use software to support the redesign
  • If you manage inventory, ask yourself how you are currently estimating what inventory to purchase. If you don’t have a standard way of doing it, research possible ways to manage inventory. Hint: All purchasing is based on some estimate of what you expect to sell. Most of these estimates are based on average sales. Average sales isn’t the best way to estimate.
  • If you’re in manufacturing, look at how you determine what the cost of your product is for pricing. Is it accurate? What does this say about the price of your product? What if you had to (or wanted to) reduce the price by 10%? Would you be able to do it and still make a profit?
  • Keep your software (reasonably) up to date. Examine the features of every new version and ask, “Should I update?” Be sure you are making the decision based on business data, not just to avoid investing in the upgrade

That’s the list. Hope it helps!