How to Evaluate Subscription Business Software - Part 2 Cost vs Benifit

By: Blink Session

Back in the 80's my grandfather used to tell me, if you get a Jaguar you are required to buy two. One to keep at the shop and the other to drive. That principle applies equally to crappy economy cars and software. The cost of business software must be weighed against its benefit, but that analysis is not easy.

In Part I of this series on How to Evaluate Subscription Business Software, we looked at quality and features. Today, we are will cover how to do a cost verse benefit analysis of business subscription software.

 

One of the biggest mistake business owners make is buying software like they choose an app for their phone. Please do not buy software that you hate using, but also focus on how the software helps you deliver a better service more efficiently.

In our modern world, efficient companies make money. Efficient companies survive. In health care, successful companies are experts at billing-related paper work. They invest in tech that helps ensure they get paid for services.

Business owners and managers that buy software like an app for their phone are only concerned with how it makes them feel doing a few things. They miss the big picture.

Stage One - Where to Start

You must view business software as an investment not an expense. An investment is a type of expense that makes you more money in the long run. Most of us prefer a real person to scan our groceries, but there is a reason grocery stores spend $200,000+ per store on self checkouts. Customers do not request self checkouts. They are there because they save  labor costs, helping keep prices competitive.

  

Do not start a cost-benefit analysis by looking at the price of the software. Start by understanding all the tasks and procedures necessary to generate revenue from a service.

1) List all the tasks and procedures necessary to generate revenue from the service. Remember, delivering the service is only one of the operations. Include all the employee training, prep time, and administrative time-suckers that are required.

2) See which procedures software can help automate (reduce labor). You do not need a software feature for every procedure. Sometimes it is worth doing a task manually, but software that automatically sends appointment reminders is something that will pay off quick.

Stage 2 - Get Real

Once you have your list of tasks and procedures that could be made more efficient by software, you are ready for stage two. This stage will involve research into which features typically go with each type of software.

Knowing which procedures can be automated does not mean you will be able to find cost-effective software to accomplish this. Also, most business subscription software is not focused on one feature. Instead, the features are grouped together. You will likely have a task which falls outside of what is typically addressed in the software packages that fit your business type.

 

Do not pigeonhole yourself by looking for software that checks all your boxes! Software is extremely complicated and complex to build. Thus, software companies must group features together which serve the majority of businesses in their target market. If your business is under 100 million a year in revenue, you will be using out-of-the-box software, at least a customized version of it. Be ready for this. You must adjust your operating procedures to fit software that is available now.

Stage 3 - Analyze

1) Determine which tasks can be helped by features of each software package.

2) Determine how much time it takes someone to perform the procedure now versus utilizing a different (new) software package.

3) Factoring in how the satisfaction of your employees and customers with the software in place versus other software or nothing at all will impact the bottom line.

 

4) Factor in the life-time value of the software. For example, if the software standardizes how a therapy company takes and stores notes, it will save countless hours in the future when that data needs to be accessed.

5) Combine the life-time cost savings by combining the labor saved, employee and customer satisfaction, and future value.

Make a Decision

A good cost-benefit analysis of business subscription software is not easy, but it is worth taking the time to do it. Over my 17 years in IT and software development, I've seen that peer pressure and trends, instead of careful analysis, are the most influential factor in which software packages are chosen. Instead of buying what you know or what other's are doing, you see a greater benefit to your software investment when you analyze the impact it will make on your company's daily operation.

Stay tunned for part three of our series when we look at evaluating software's easy of use and wrap up our suggestions.