Most companies need the help of accounting software, project management software, and other general-purpose platforms to remain efficiently operational. But some companies have much more specific, specialized needs. For example, you might need software especially designed to engineer pipe threads for straight thread dimensions.
When shopping for specialty, niche software for your business, how should you go about making your decision?
Outline Your Needs
First, you need to outline your needs. For example:
- Core functionality. What are the core functions that this software will need to perform? When a user accesses this software, what tasks will they be able to accomplish? Depending on your needs, this may be narrow or broad in scope.
- Accessibility. How are people going to access this software? Should this be accessible on practically any device, or can it be centralized?
- Integrations. How does this software need to interact with other components of your internal systems? Does it need to pull data from a different piece of software? Should it export its data in a specific format?
Identify Your Priorities
Next, consider your business’s main priorities. Chances are, you’ll have many options to choose from, even in a highly specialized niche, so what factors are going to push one software to be above the others?
- Functionality. You’ve already created an outline of everything you need the software to accomplish, but how firm are these needs? What are the core features that are indispensable – the ones that you practically can’t live without? What are the core features that are expendable – the ones you can afford to compromise or even give up entirely? There are no right or wrong answers here, but you should know where your priorities lie.
- Usability. What about the UI/UX design of the software? The software may have the backend code necessary to do everything you want it to do, but how easy is it for your employees to use? Should it be intuitive enough that you won’t have to spend much time training or educating your employees? How important is this compared to your other priorities?
- Cost. All businesses will need to consider the cost of the products they’re using. Even if a software product does everything you need it to do, and does it quite efficiently, a high price tag could compromise the potential value it can provide to your business. If fitting the software into a tight budget is your highest priority, what other elements are you willing to sacrifice?
- Scalability. How scalable does your software need to be? In other words, how easy should it be to continue using this software as your company grows? It may work fine for your company’s current needs today, but will you be forced to switch or upgrade in a few years?
- Flexibility. How much flexibility do you need to have? Do you want to customize your software with a host of unique features, designed specifically for your business? Or can you use something out of the box?
- Integrations and interoperability. Does your business currently use other software that needs to interoperate with this niche product? Think about how much you value the potential of integrations and interoperability.
Research Existing Options
After you’ve fully outlined your business’s main priorities, you can start searching for software options that already exist. Pay attention to:
- Ratings and reviews. For starters, look at ratings and reviews. What do people have to say about this software? Have other customers used it for the purposes you’re envisioning? What do they like most and like least about it?
- Demo functionality. Work with your team to review the key features of the software and see how it works close up. Hopefully, you can secure a free trial and get your hands on the software directly. Otherwise, you may have to rely on a demo from a salesperson. Either way, this should give you the information you need to get closer to a final decision.
- Developer commitment. Do these developers seem committed to supporting this product well into the future? Do they have major updates or content additions planned for the coming years?
- Communication. How easy is it to communicate with the company that makes this software? Can you get service if there’s ever an issue?
Designing From Scratch
If you’re not able to find what you’re looking for in a product that’s already on the market, your best bet may be to design and develop a software system from scratch. If you already know what functionality you need and what your priorities are, it should be easy to communicate your vision to a custom software developer. Once you find the right partner, it shouldn’t be hard to get the finished product you’d always envisioned.