HOUSTON, Feb. 11, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Upgrading or changing business software can be a daunting challenge, but one most small businesses have to face sooner or later. Asking the right questions up front can help to avoid picking the wrong software or alienating employees and customers along the way, according to Mark Henderson Leary, vice president of Aldridge, a leading provider, consultant and integrator of information technology and cloud computing solutions for growing and mid-sized businesses.
Leary recently headed a panel at the Doeren Mayhew 2014 Client Conference examining the best practices in finding and maximizing the right software for business. Joining him on the panel to share their experiences were Mike Schaffner, director of information technology at Cameron, Jennifer Mishriky, vice president at CTI Transportation, and Karl Maier, manager - business advisory at Doeren Mayhew.
"One of the first decisions companies confront is whether to choose generic business software from a large player like Oracle or Microsoft, or instead pick niche software designed for a specific industry," Leary said. "Very specific software usually comes preconfigured, but it may not be as flexible. Generic software can be easy to find but may require a consultant to configure it for a company's specific needs."
Another consideration is how new software can be scaled to grow with a company, Maier of Doeren Mayhew said. Companies also should look at their evolution. "Are you moving toward an environment in which employees use a variety of computers, laptops and tablets? If your culture is one of BYOD – bring your own device – then you will need to address issues of control."
As companies move toward a cloud environment and the use of multiple devices, they also need to consider how to provide access and connection with customers.
"If you are a business-to-business operation, you may lean toward more traditional, robust and efficient software that is compatible with your business customers," Leary said.
Companies that interface with consumers will find more interest in software that will connect with myriad endpoints, including mobile applications involving a variety of operating systems.
Even the most avid employees may reject new software changes without proper communication.
"There is always resistance to change, but the degree of it will depend on a company's culture and how much change the organization already is going through," Leary said. "Employees can suffer from change fatigue, and that is not the best time to introduce more change."
Involving users very early in the process and communicating regularly can lessen such resistance and increase employee buy-in.
Also important is to "deploy software that makes sense to the people who are using it," said Mishriky of CTI Transportation, a Houston corporate and executive transportation company. "The software we are deploying will eventually allow our staff to move people and vehicles around like they are playing a video game. That's what it needs to be for the people who do that work."
Something that seems as simple as choosing and introducing new software can be a complex process, Leary said. "We find many companies succeed by finding someone with experience to help drive them through the challenges and opportunities."
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Aldridge is a Houston, Texas-based technology management, consulting and outsourcing company also with offices in Dallas. Founded in 1984, the company brings a winning combination of professional technical expertise, extensive capabilities and a strict focus on the importance of business processes. Aldridge is a leading provider, consultant and integrator of Information Technology and Cloud Computing solutions. In 2013, the Houston Business Journal listed the company as among the best places to work in Houston for the second consecutive year. In 2011, the company was listed as No. 11 on the Houston Business Journal's Fast Tech 50 list of fastest growing Houston technology companies.
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