Making Technology Work For You

Technology can be extremely powerful, however to make it work for you it’s important to ask the right questions in the early days.

Technology can be extremely powerful, however to make it work for you it’s important to ask the right questions in the early days.

 
 

When adopting technology, make sure to ask these questions:

  • How do I protect my data?

  • What happens if it all goes wrong?

  • What does the future look like?

How do I choose the best product?

Often the shiniest products look good because more time and money has been spent on marketing, rather than on creating a robust solution for your business. Don’t fall into the honey trap just because it looks sweet. Make sure you compare at least 2 providers. The best won’t back away from a competition and your business will thank you for it. Asking about the following topics will set you up to purchase the right software for your business.

How do I protect my data?

Get a pre-nup and protect yourself from a data divorce! Your data is your data. Ensure that you have the ability to get your data out painlessly. That gives you the flexibility to change providers and keeps them focused on your success. Ask the “what if…“ questions before you sign any contracts. Keep in mind, businesses that lock you in usually have the worst products and support. 

What happens if it all goes wrong?

The best way to judge the quality of a company and their product is to know what they do when things go wrong. Talk to existing customers and ask what happens when things go wrong and how the provider responded. Be sure to ask how long has the reference customer been using the product.

What does the future look like?

Software is no longer stationary. You need a provider that can keep the product up to date with the latest changes in technology and more importantly your business needs. How often do they ask you about your ideas and how often do your suggestions turn up as actual features you can use?

How do you know if your information is secure?

To get value out of most types of business software, you will need to enter commercially sensitive information. This could be hive locations, lab results, profitability information or many more. While tools that help you use this information can be incredibly powerful, they also represent some level of risk. It is important to know that your provider takes this extremely seriously. Ask them about the steps they have taken to keep your information secure. The hard part of this question is, when you are not a tech person, understanding the jargon. The best case is you ask a friend who understands information security to help make sense of what the vendor tells you. Otherwise we have provided a check list of some basics any serious software provider should have in place. We have done our best to translate it from tech talk to layman’s terms, but if you are still not comfortable with how it works reach out to one of our team and we are happy to have that conversation with you (insert link to contact form here).

How do you charge?

A big issue with software in this day and age is the lack of transparency around the cost. A good example is when companies charge you for the “right to use”. What this means is that you pay even if you don’t use. What you need to know upfront is what are the different ways in which they charge for their product. Be careful on right to use versus actual use. If the most important thing to your business is certainty around costs, ask the provider to talk through a deal specific to you. Most professional software companies will be happy to have a conversation around what your company’s needs are. If the team is not willing to have a discussion that’s a huge red flag.

How reliable is the software?

Even Google goes down sometimes. All modern software will have issues. You can protect yourself against this by requesting a certain amount of “uptime”. What that means is that the software is up and running. Often this can be phrased in a service level agreement as a percentage level of uptime. E.g. a contract that promises 99% uptime would have to make sure that it is functional for 99% of the time, or for every hour it is only ever down for 36 seconds! You can write in different clauses to contracts that will keep the provider motivated to keep their service live. For the example above if the service is down for more than the 1% you could get a discount, cash back, extra hours of support time for free or any other option that helps keep the software company focused on providing a reliable service. To dig into this section it is a good idea to talk to existing customers. Good providers will have no issue introducing you to their customers and pushing you to ask them some hard questions. The best question to ask is: “can you give me an example of when something went wrong and what did the provider do about it?”.

Does it work offline?

The answer anyone who wants you to buy their software will give is yes. What they really mean is yes, but…

As software products are extremely complex they can have different parts that work offline and online, often they have features which blend both. This is usually a good thing, especially for beekeepers. There isn’t always good connection out in the field, so access to the internet can be unreliable. If you have the field work being able to be done offline then the product is more reliable on the ground. However you want the information to be able to sync up at base without a lot of manual effort. So having a field app that works offline but can then send information back to base online is a very powerful thing. Make sure you ask what parts of the product work offline and how much impact that will have on your business.

To recap, the most important topics and questions to ask a software company when looking at purchasing a product are:

Best product:

  1. Who are your competitors?

  2. Why are you better than they are?

  3. What does the competitor do well?

  4. How many sales people versus product, engineering and design people are on your team?

  5. How long has the product been in the field?

Protecting your data:

  1. What data can I export from your system?

  2. What can I not easily export from your system?

  3. What does it cost to leave your product?

When things don’t work:

  1. Can you give me an example of when something went wrong for one of your customers using your product and what did you do to fix it?

The Future:

  1. What did your latest software update do? Why was that important?

  2. What does the future of your product look like? How are you customers part of that conversation?

Do you have any to add? Send info@beeapp.buzz an email with the subject line More Questions and we be in touch.

Hopefully this has helped you avoid some of the common pitfalls of purchasing software and set you up to successfully use technology to improve your business.

If you want to talk to our team and ask us these questions, and any more, directly please reach out to Jack on +64 21 998 005 or jack@beeapp.buzz

Read How BeeApp Stacks Up on each Question…

We believe in our product and our team, you can read how BeeApp stacks up against all of these questions here (link).