Once you have identified the needs of your small business, you can decide what applications and features will enable you to address them. For example, you may be considering what software you need to set up an administration system and work flow, or researching different company accounting packages.
In order to keep within budget constraints, you should first distinguish essential and desirable requirements – needs versus wants – and list them in order of importance under these headings. Then, after research in the market place, including via the internet, note down the features offered by competing solutions against each requirement. Be sure to include price and quality information. This systematic approach will reduce the complexity, and allow an informed comparison.
Other factors to be considered include:
- Why are you buying it?
- Who is going to access, implement and maintain it – and what will that cost?
- How often will it be used?
- What hardware – servers, printers, modems, data storage devices, etc. will you need?
- Can you meet your needs more effectively by outsourcing their delivery to an external provider or cloud computing service (see Using the Cloud)?
Budgeting and implementation planning is a vital part of this process, to ensure that you don't overspend and that you are able to get your business online in a time frame that meets your business needs. Think about recurring maintenance costs, security costs and insurance for items that may be damaged, stolen or corrupted.
Case Study: Recreation Sector – parkrun Australia
parkrun Australia strategically chose features to keep their members constantly informed. They did this by implementing a Field Management System (FMS) to organise and roster volunteers, and to send their members results and feedback to help them improve.
They engaged their customers by giving them the information they need, and this encouraged extensive membership growth. As Tim Oberg, the General Manager of parkrun Australia explains in this video, "members love receiving feedback and results" and "event directors [are able] to not just process the results on a Saturday but also [access a] volunteer management tool."