Do you know that feeling when stricken by an initial appeal of a given app, you’re left disappointed later on? It happens often. Especially to people who don’t know what things to avoid in business software.
Frequently, choosing the right software for your business happens by trial and error. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, you can make it a lot easier.
Below you’ll find a full list of 13 things to avoid in business software – so you’re happy with your choice from the start!
Why Does Choosing The Right Software Matter?
In times when the majority of cloud solutions are available for free, it’s so much easier to try them out without financial commitment.
That’s why you’ve got no excuse нот to jump on the first application you’ve heard of.
In fact, selecting the right business software is something you should spend a long while on. Your employee satisfaction and business revenue could depend on that!
To give you a better understanding, here’s why getting the right business software is so important:
- Avoid unnecessary costs. While many apps come with a free version, their premium plans can be quite expensive – especially if you invest in a solution for a larger team. The last thing you want is to spend a chunk of your budget on something that turns out to be something entirely disappointing. “Hershey’s, and Nike are two of the most recognizable businesses in the world who both suffered massive sales losses because of poor software rollouts”, says Chris Heard at Olive.app, giving a good example of how important it is to avoid wrong software decisions.
- Don’t lose time. It can be just as frustrating to spend days or even weeks working with a given solution, just to realize it doesn’t meet your needs. Understanding what things to avoid in business software is crucial if you want to avoid wasting time.
- Don’t discourage your employees. Prolonged contact with apps that aren’t the right fit for your team can affect your employees’ outlook on software in general. If numerous poorly chosen apps have impeded their productivity, your people may resist adopting yet another solution.
- Make transition smoother. A platform that is the right fit for your employees will be easier to adapt. Whether you’ll be moving from a non-digital environment or from another platform, a well-chosen solution will make the transition seamless – or at least, less bumpy.
13 Things to Avoid in Business Software
#1: Complex, Unintuitive Interface
One of the first and most crucial things to avoid in business software is the poor user interface.
It’s not always possible to design a simple UI – especially for complex solutions. Still, your goal as a user is to avoid applications with complex interfaces that are hard to figure out and get familiar with.
This is vital if you have a team of people who struggle with adapting to technologies. Teaching non-tech-savvy employees to use software can’t succeed if your chosen solution is overly complicated.
Aim for a balance between simple and intuitive design and complexity. If a simpler app helps you achieve your goals, there’s no need to confuse your employees with advanced solutions.
#2: Too Many Features & Features You Won’t Use
Sometimes we think that having more features directly translates to higher productivity, but that often isn’t true.
Remember: you pay a monthly subscription for a solution because it helps you achieve certain goals – not because it has more features than other similar apps.
In fact, more features only translate to how complex a given solution is. And complexity is something that you want to avoid more often than not.
Not to mention that advanced solutions with numerous features are more expensive. The question is whether you want to pay for features you won’t use.
#3: Removed Features
Different apps, especially those made by startups and in the early stages of development, have a tendency to shift their shape and form. However, one thing you should look out for is removing features from the platform – especially the important ones.
While the decision to remove features is usually based on the developer’s in-depth analysis of customer expectations and preceded by a lengthy notice, it’s still not something you want to see too often (or at all).
Simply imagine what would happen if the feature you used on daily basis was, out of blue, deleted.
#4: Unclear Pricing
Unclear pricing, or generally speaking, unclear conditions of what you pay for, are one of the main things to avoid in business software.
Here are a few examples:
- too many plans that look very similar to one another
- pricing and plans changing often or unreasonably
- lack of clarification on what features are included in which plan
- unclear division between paid and free plans
Be sure you know what you’re signing up for. Ideally, you should be able to accurately calculate costs for chosen features without the need to contact the provider’s sales team.
#5: Insufficient Support
Insufficient support could mean a lot of things, so let’s clarify it a bit.
Avoid a given solution if you notice that their support team:
- simply doesn’t exist (and yes, it happens)
- takes really long to get back to you
- doesn’t offer an individual approach and instead deals with your problem through template messages
- provides mutually exclusive information
Instead, look for providers with professional support teams that offer everything opposite to what we’ve just said.
#6: Lack of Training Materials
While most software providers share some kind of an FAQ, it sometimes isn’t enough. Not every problem has an answer in the user guide, and that’s why you’ll want to choose a platform with an extensive knowledge base.
A good example of such an extensive knowledge base is a content-rich YouTube channel that includes plenty of “How to do X in the Z platform” type of videos.
#7: Bugs and Instability
This should go without saying, but avoid platforms full of bugs and internal instability at all cost.
In solutions of lower accountability, such as simple tasks lists or screen sharing software, this is only a minor inconvenience. However, in the case of financial management software or customer relationship management platforms that include sensitive data, bugs and instability can null years of work or expose your customers to privacy breaches.
#8: Frequent Downtime
Downtime happens to every platform. Whether it’s due to technical issues or scheduled maintenance, every now and then an app you use might not be available. This is normal and to be expected.
What is NOT normal, is when downtime happens often, irregularly, and without notice from your provider. This may hint at larger technical problems, instability, or even security issues.
#9: Unclear Security or Privacy
When you’re looking to use software for high accountability activities, such as storing customer data, financial management, or contract signing, security and privacy should be your top concern.
Before you sign up for a given solution, dig deep to understand how and where all the data is hosted and how it’s protected. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the sales team to get that information. Any hint of lack of clarity or circling around the subject should be a major red flag.
#10: Complexity in Achieving Goals and Completing Tasks
Like we said above, you choose software to help you with very specific problems. Plainly said, that one ideal app will help you complete tasks or achieve your goals the easy way. If it doesn’t, it’s not for you. Period.
For example: if you look for a solution to generate reports based on time tracking logs, you’ll want to stick with one which allows you to do so in three clicks, rather than in ten.
Keep it simple.
#11: Lack of Responsiveness & Sync
Most often, we work from our laptops and desktop computers. However, the mobile responsiveness of an app is incredibly useful when you want to quickly check in with your team and you’re away from your desk.
For example, imagine if one of your team members urgently needed your input and Slack didn’t have a mobile app for you to answer when stuck in a doctor appointment queue.
If your platform doesn’t sync with mobile devices or doesn’t have a responsive design, it may end up being impractical or plainly unusable.
#12: Lack of Integrations
This may be a bit of a bonus tip – after all, we don’t always use integrations. However, they can sometimes prove useful for monitoring activity across several apps your business uses.
That’s why any good app should have at least a few most viable integrations. If they don’t, it may be for a variety of reasons – but to you, it may be a reason to actually check in with another provider. Especially if integrations are how your business communicates across teams and departments.
#13: Questionable Terms of Service
We’ve left the most important of things to avoid in business software for the end of this list – as there’s no stressing this one enough.
Most terms of service the software providers want you to agree on seem pretty standard and similar to each other. However, don’t let that trick you.
If you’re unlucky, your provider could include a ToS paragraph that, in the worst case, could be considered ethically questionable. While this is somewhat extreme, you’re much more likely to see something that doesn’t sit right with you – for example, their refund policies.
Whichever it is, get familiar with the ToS of the application you choose. After all, it’s not just about you – but your employees and business in general.
Choose Your App Right – Final Thoughts
Everything in your business could depend on that one particular application you choose to work with.
Make sure you make the right choice. By keeping an eye out for these 13 things to avoid in business software, you’re less likely to make a painful mistake.
And, hopefully, your first choice will be the right one.