Make sure software—custom or otherwise—plays a strategic role in your business.
Did you know you should start thinking about your software rollout strategy early on in the project?
Don’t wait until the last minute. To help, download our software rollout template.
Software strategy is how you approach the software side of technology in your business. Other areas of IT include hardware, hosting, IT infrastructure, etc, but software strategy specifically focuses on things like: What tech stack (languages, frameworks,
and tools) do you use? Do you buy off-the-shelf software, build custom software, or something in between? Is software an afterthought, or is it top of mind with the leadership team and other team members?
It’s likely that some (or all) of your core business functions rely on software—for example, a CRM, an ecommerce website, or a customer service portal. Or, in the case of SaaS products, your business may BE the software.
Thinking about software strategically helps you make sure you’re making the most of your investment. If you don’t have a strategy in place, your software systems are likely fragmented, don’t integrate with each other, and cause more
problems than they solve.
A lot of organizations think about software in siloed pieces: The CRM is over here, the accounting system is over there, and the marketing tools are relegated to the marketing team.
But to get the most out of each software platform, it’s important to think of them as a whole system. Doing so allows you to compare your software initiatives to your overarching business goals to identify gaps, opportunities for improvement, and
areas of focus.
For example, if your business is focused on providing top-notch customer service, a well-designed customer portal can go a long way in helping reach that goal.
Or if you’re focused on improving profitability and removing inefficiencies, software is one of the best ways to make that happen.
One way to be strategic with your software is to think of software like a team member. Ask yourself:
What are its job responsibilities?
How are outcomes measured and evaluated?
How should customers interact with it?
Even though software is technology, it’s still a very human concept: It’s created by humans and used by humans.
If we all had our way, we’d magically have custom software that took care of everything needing to be done in our business that could be automated. While that’s technically possible, it would require a bloated timeline and budget to get “done,”
and, in reality, would never actually be done.
When it comes to software, it’s important to know your priorities. As you think about what you’d like the system to do, label each item:
Must have - Non-negotiable features and functionality
Should have - Items that aren't required but that add significant value
Nice to have - Dream functionality that would be valuable but isn’t urgent or as high-priority
When you have your priorities and needs set, you can start with a minimum viable product (MVP) and iterate from there, releasing the highest-priority features into the world while continuing to build out the platform.
Every software development company sets their prices and estimates differently (here’s how we estimate custom software projects). You’ll get the most accurate
picture of what you can expect if you walk in with a budget range in mind.
For example, if a company told us their budget is:
$150,000 - $200,000 for the initial build
$30,000 - $40,000 per year for enhancements
After learning about their goals and vision for the system, we could gut-check if it’s possible for us to build what they want within their budget range. We can then work on a more detailed analysis and backlog to document must-have, should-have,
and nice-to-have items.
For those of you who think, “Well then they’ll just make their estimate at the top of my budget,” ...of course they will. We want to build you the best software for your budget, so we’ll show you what we think we can get you within
that range and talk through a recommended contingency budget.
Go into your project with an idea of the value your software will bring and therefore what you’re willing to invest. Throughout the project, we work within the software development triangle constraints to adjust as we learn new things. Remember, you’re always in the driver’s seat because you help set the priority of what gets built and when (thanks to the must have/should have/nice to have decisions you already made).
A lot of organizations make the mistake of starting their software rollout plan in the 11th hour. However, you need to think about your rollout throughout your project—starting
with research and development and all the way through to testing and maintenance.
Download our software rollout plan template now.
Your software strategy should be similar to your overarching business strategy:
Set the initial strategy
Present to and get buy-in from your team
Revisit the strategy quarterly or annually
Check ongoing priorities against your established strategy
The general direction of the strategy will likely remain fairly similar, but priorities and implementation will be changing continuously.
Technology is constantly evolving, and you have to be ready to change along with it. Whether it’s adding new tools to your stack or changing your development processes to meet new best practices, it’s important to stay on top of your software
Part of your software strategy needs to include investing in software updates. Software isn’t a set-it-and-forget it part of your business.
Ongoing costs for software can include:
3rd party components
In addition to monetary costs, you and your team should always be looking for and documenting the best ways to use each system, when to integrate systems, and opportunities for enhancements.
Here’s how we’ve helped clients be strategic with their software systems.
With an online product guide, Peterson Genetics can share and analyze soybean hybrid data with ease.
The custom Powers Manufacturing uniform builder helps coaches create their perfect uniform and helps Powers save manpower.
iEmergent provides mortgage forecasts and analytics, and now Mortgage MarketSmart helps lenders visualize and analyze that data.
Want to dive deeper into software strategy? Read some of our blog posts on the topic.
Are you trying to pick a new software solution for your business? Or maybe you have a legacy system and aren't sure of the best way to update it.
Far Reach is a custom software development company based in Cedar Falls, Iowa. We help businesses look at their software strategically and build systems to fill gaps, integrate existing platforms, and more.
Whatever your software question, let’s talk it through—no obligation, no strings attached.
Type the code from the image