We’ve recently been looking for some management software to help our marketing department. As the director for a management software company, I’ve been surprised how much I’ve learned.

I’ve been promised the moon on a spoon (of course)…every member of my team will be more effective, and the money spent on the software will very quickly be recouped, multiple times over! Testimonials from past customers are positively ecstatic, and I’m told that every aspect of our work will be almost magically enhanced.

That software can help us improve the quality of our work, whilst saving time, is something none of us would argue with.

But I’m sceptical that any software will work like a magic bullet, or give clarity of purpose, where there is no vision.

Also we’ve all encountered software packages that frustrate: that introduce unnecessary processes and so slow down simple tasks, or are so complex and clunky that we put off entering data as simply don’t enjoy using them, or which fail to ‘talk to’ our other systems. What it comes down to for me is this:

  • Being clear about your own organisational goals.
  • Realistically scoping out my need (after consulting internally) and not letting the salesman tell me what it is.
  • Gathering as much information as I can about different options, then using and testing them thoroughly in my free trial period.
  • Making the most of the free training and the expertise and experience offered by potential suppliers…so I learn something I can use to enhance how I work, even if I don’t go on to buy.
  • Prioritising the things I’d like, the things we need now, and the things that we’ll need in the future..making sure my decision prepares us for the challenges ahead.
  • Valuing my own time – in cold hard cash terms. An hour saved for me on admin, or entering data in multiple systems, is an hour we can invest in more useful activity.
  • Costing out not just the expense of purchase, but the risks of carrying on as we are now
  • Looking at what other, successful  marketing managers are doing…using the system that’s been embraced and endorsed by my peers gives me confidence in adopting it here.

I haven’t made my decision yet. As with any purchasing decision (including when we buy as part of our job role), there’s a gut feel involved, too. We all want to work with companies and people who we think understand and share our goals and values. And if we need help or advice as our schools and businesses change, we want to have confidence that the company we’ve chosen to work with has the expertise and enthusiasm to respond. Finally, the best software is enjoyable to use. Whether it’s creating your first graph magically in Excel, or generating your first playlist on itunes, the best software gives us capabilities we love to take advantage of.