The software landscape is fast-moving and ever-changing. This article covers 5 key points to keep in mind through a software review. To begin a successful review, you will first need a deep understanding of your firm’s workflow and challenges and then secondly, be up to date and familiar with the latest technology available in the industry. Software is obviously not something you want to get wrong. Not only is it expensive to change but the change itself is time and resource-intensive. If it is done right you can keep changes to a minimum, maximise your efficiency and remain at the forefront of new developments without a worry in the world for years to come..

1. Automation

Technology is now at a point where rather than just helping with managing and organising tasks, they can be, to varying degrees, actually done for you. The AI and machine learning trend is game-changing and is offering firms new ways to gain efficiencies. If your technology is a few years old and hasn’t been actively developed, there could be new alternatives that can change the way you do things. If you are reviewing new technology, review it from the lens of “how much time will this save me or my team; can the machines do the mundane tasks my staff waste precious hours on?” This can also be considered when reviewing and improving outsourcing strategies.

2. Integration

It is important that software is flexible and plays nice with your other systems to ensure it complements your workflow. Always check the software you are reviewing already has, or is open to, useful integrations. Many software companies out there are effectively a closed-loop and try to build all the products/modules themselves, this can restrict your ability to utilise best in class technology whilst maintaining a connected workflow.

3. Tech stack context

Software products often focus on one area and do it well. e.g. a Document management system, a workflow program, a customer portal, etc. This often means a firm may have anywhere from 3 to 5 disparate software systems to fulfil a single work process. Integrations can help with this but a fully integrated 5 system solution is unlikely for most firms to construct and navigate. Rather than focusing on feature-rich or even overall best in class systems, review technology from the context of your own workflow and requirements. Is there potentially 1 system that does what you need instead of 3 individual systems?

4. Future development (A going concern)

Static software development is not a good sign. It’s basically going backwards. In such a fast-moving competitive market, you will be best served to enquire as to the growth and development plans of a software package you are currently using or reviewing. Partnering with a software firm that aggressively releases updates and new features means you are likely staying up to date with the latest tech and reducing your future risk of needing to change in the near future.

5. Cost vs Value

This is very specific to your own circumstances. The cheapest software or the most expensive is not necessarily the right option for you. It needs to solve a problem for you specifically. This sounds obvious but there are so many firms that either have low-cost solutions that don’t actually offer real value or firms with expensive pieced together solutions that can actually cause inefficiency. Understanding the actual value vs costs of software relative to your own situation is crucial. Inefficiency isn’t a line item on the balance sheet, unfortunately! Cloudoffis specialises in automation technology for accountants and auditors in the SMSF space, get in touch with us here.