Building Business Software Requirements [Checklist]

If you’re looking to grow a business and drive it forward, you need to be hunting for opportunities, ready to grab them with both hands. And in today’s digital world, opportunity is more-often-than-not represented in ones and zeroes. You’ve identified an area of your business that has room for improvement, whether that be in the form of an opportunity to streamline your operations, or the chance to capitalize on a new revenue stream. In order to create this improvement you’ll need a capable piece of business software. From simple Excel spreadsheets to the fully custom complex business solutions, ‘business software’ can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. But no matter what type of software you may be looking for, there’s one question that will need to be asked almost every time; do I attempt to identify an off-the-shelf solution that can hopefully meet most of my needs, or should I choose to develop a custom software solution that meets my needs exactly?Before tackling the greater problem of custom vs off the shelf, you first need a good handle on what you require from the software in question. If it’s something simple – basic business accounting software for example – the likelihood that a suitable off the-shelf solution already exists will be high. But if the improvement you hope to make is more unique to your business or can separate you in the marketplace, you may need to go for a custom solution in order to achieve positive results.So how do you go about evaluating your business’s software requirements? Use the following checklist to get a sense of what you might need from your solution.

  • Identify the Aim and Desired Outcome
    What is the goal of implementing this new piece of software? What is its mission statement? Perhaps you’re hoping to be able to sell your goods efficiently online, or you want to make better strategic decisions through the use of business intelligence. Try to make the goal of the software as clearly defined as possible – this will aid in streamlining the entire process. The endless capabilities of modern day software can allow for this aim and desired outcome to be quite literally anything.

  • Speak with Key Stakeholders
    It’s important to get input from not just those on the higher rungs of your business’s corporate ladder, but also those on the frontline who’ll be dealing with the software firsthand. Employees with direct relationships to your customers, end users and IT personnel will provide some of the most valuable insights into what your solution should entail.

  • Compile a List of Requirements
    Once you’ve spoken to your key stakeholders, come up with a complete list of requirements that your solution should be able to deliver. These requirements should represent everything that your ideal software solution should be capable of. Some examples include:

    • Simple functionality that allows people to operate the software easily and intuitively.

    • Access to comprehensive analytics on the data that the software gathers.

    • Measurable ROI on the software’s performance.

    • Prioritize Those Requirements
      Which of your listed requirements is most important to you? If you choose an off-the-shelf solution it will be very rare that every single one of your needs will be met, so it’s important that you prioritize your requirements and ensure the most pressing will be addressed. Mark each requirement either ‘Must Have’, ‘Nice to Have’ or ‘No Preference’ in order to identify the most important aspects of your potential solution.

    • Examine Your Current Capabilities
      What are the capabilities of your current business software systems? Should you look to include aspects of these systems in your new one, consolidating multiple pieces of software into one efficient program? Or does a piece of current software have the capability to be expanded or augmented to obtain your new goal?

 

After getting a good sense of both what you need from your solution and what your business’s current state of affairs is, it’s time to begin researching options and evaluating those that match. Will these matches be custom, packaged or a bit of a mix? To work that out, take a look at the in depth resource "Custom Software vs Off the Shelf."