So you have a revenue generating product or service and a customer support team. What systems are you using to interact with your customers?
Companies reach different stages of maturity in their life cycles. I have seen many startups rush to scale and take short cuts on the systems they use to support growth, which comes back to bite them and actually slows growth. The more you grow, the more gnarly your systems becomes and the more difficult it can be to change. That’s why it is very important for a company to think through these decisions before purchasing and align decisions with strategies. Prior to making any system related decisions for your startup, make sure you consider these four recommendations:
- Go to the cloud. This may be self explanatory but has to be mentioned in this context. There are many benefits to operating your business in the cloud, including getting up and running faster, more nimble for pivots and lower ongoing maintenance costs. Let the SaaS providers do what they do best. Unless you’re a CRM startup, let Salesforce run your CRM system.
- Do your due diligence and use best of breed. There are so many SaaS products today. Don’t jump all in on one because you saw a great demo. Take some time to do some due diligence and make the best informed decision for your company. Not all SaaS products are created equal and some are better for different stages of growth. Also, always negotiate some kind of out clause in case during implementation you find out it wasn’t the right choice for whatever reason. You don’t want to be on the hook to pay for a system that won’t work for you.
- Keep it simple. Try to use multifunctional systems to limit the amount of systems you use for your daily processes. Wouldn’t it be nice if your CRM could also do your billing? Do not customize! As hard as that could be as you’re doing whatever it takes for more revenue, you could eventually lose whatever extra revenue you gained by supporting customizations for non standard deals and processes.
- As much as possible, don’t use credit cards to buy software. Sure, it’s the easiest and fastest, but you’ll thank yourself later when your credit card isn’t getting unexpectedly hit with a large dollar renewal. Implement some kind of light weight software purchasing process. You’ll prevent shadow IT living on expense reports and have a single view of your software spend with the ability to better manage costs and software sprawl (see Keep it simple).
Steve Perras is the Director, Business Systems at Right Networks