At a certain size, there’s very little that you can accomplish without software. You’d need double or triple the staff to track all the busy work that comes with having several thousand (or sometimes millions) of customers to service. Software solves the problems that come with tracking, following up and fulfilling client orders by using a complex set of systems designed for integration. It’s not enough to automate only package fulfillment, for instance; companies need departments (and the various elements of the supply chain) to “talk” to one another.
Startups tend to build many tools in-house because they can choose when and how to scale without over-committing to cost. That changes once the flow of customers facilitates expansion. Here are some of the more compelling reasons why these businesses transition to third-party software:
Oftentimes, the simplest reason to choose third-party software is fulfilling a need. You might be able to offer a new or better service to customers, or better understand your own operations. Tracking analytics related to how you service customers, or what happens when a user visits your website, gives you greater insight into customer behavior, helping fuel expansion.
You might also look to cut costs by automating simple tasks. For example, maintenance workers rely on CMMS cloud applications to tell them when a storeroom needs to be restocked, or which machines go down, without the need for a human to flag these issues. Think about how your business might benefit from automation.
Startups often put security on the backburner to focus on deployment — sometimes at a detriment to their business. The fact is that entrepreneurs need to pick and choose where they utilize their resources. When the business expands, it’s essential to craft a budget for securing user data.
Typically, databases are stored offsite. Managed by a third party, your representatives can access this information from secure browsers. Access is tied to logins and can be restricted to the corporate interweb. Taking these precautions helps cut down your risk of fraud and unauthorized access to sensitive data about your clients.
Another common reason to move away from in-house tools and towards third-party software is efficiency. Development takes time, and you often can’t identify the needs of a scaling business until they happen. New complications you hadn’t foreseen spring up, and you may not have 6 months to a year to focus on development, testing and deployment of a new service that you need right now.
A good example of this at work is the ticketing system. With a handful of clients, a dedicated support team can handle a few hundred requests weekly with a basic email system. Add thousands of customers to that system, and things quickly get out of hand. A ticketing system would allow your support team to assign priorities to customer complaints, flag them for escalation, respond to them and track the progress of every issue.
Efficiency also applies to marketing, where automated systems help blast messages out to a wider audience. Email marketing software is an excellent example of this, but there are search engine optimization and social media automation tools that can help expand reach as well. Marketing can also connect customers to the supply chain, using specialized codes that increase customer engagement while allowing manufacturers better access to customer data.
Expanding often means rapid growth, which has downsides in addition to the numerous benefits. Carefully assessing your business needs will help you identify key software suites that you can use to better serve your customers.