We’ve created a handy step-by-step guide to help you make an informed software-buying decision.
Taking a structured approach to buying software is key to finding a system that’s the right fit for your business: Software everyone wants to use and actually adds real value to your business by solving real problems.
Here are the steps for buying moving software:
- Identify your business needs and painful processes
- Identify stakeholders and get buy-in
- Align on budget
- Build your business case
- Build your vendor list
- Evaluate vendors
- Create your shortlist and request demos
- Make a purchase decision
- Manage risk
Not sure what kind of software you need? Check out our article on homegrown vs software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions.
Step 1: Identify business needs and painful processes
It’s important to understand your business needs, define painful processes or problems you want to solve, and determine your ideal future state before even considering vendors.
Why? Firstly, it will help you find vendors and software that are the best fit. Secondly, it will help you determine if there is a strong enough business reason for investing resources, time, and money into the software.
Pinpoint painful processes
These are processes that usually require lots of human input, take time, and remove people from more productive work. For example, maybe your current billing process is outdated, with you using Excel and having to save each invoice as a PDF before attaching it to an email—only to realize you made a mistake. You now have to fix the error before repeating the entire process. Or perhaps your crews are wasting time on-site writing everything down, only to transfer that information to the computer later.
Some processes will be easier to identify than others. But to help you along, you'll need to get feedback from your organization. Here are a few tips:
- Focus on common business areas or departments that could benefit from digitization, like operations and accounting.
- Observe how employees handle current processes.
- Ask employees what they do and don’t enjoy about the existing processes.
- Ask your team what would make their lives easier
Determine your ideal future state
You’ll also want to determine your ideal future state. Is there a certain growth rate you want to hit? A certain number of trucks, branches, or moves per year? Are you looking to open new branches or even create a centralized “corporate” entity that manages many satellite movers?
You’ll need to think carefully about how you can optimize existing processes to expand your moving company effectively and understand how new technology can help you solve these problems—and scale with your business. While you may be happy with certain features today, you may need something more sophisticated tomorrow. Your tech should give you that option.
Step 2: Identify stakeholders and get buy-in
Before you can start building a vendor list, you’ll need to bring together all the internal stakeholders that need to be involved in buying software for moving company. Ask yourself:
Who is the person with overall authority over the buying decisions (if it is not you)?
Is this the same or different from your decision maker?
Who else needs to be involved in the buying process? Stakeholders may include:
- End users: Moving crews, sales, HR, operations, and others who will be using the product daily
- Subject matter experts: Employees with intricate knowledge of the ins and outs of business processes and workflows
- IT: Most software implementations/products require input from IT and guidance around implementation, integration, and other technical details
- Legal and Finance: The people responsible for specifying legal requirements and determining budgets
If you operate a small moving company, you’ll likely be able to identify the different stakeholders and their names rather quickly. However, if you operate a larger one, you may benefit from creating a RACI Matrix to ensure everyone is on the same page during the sales and implementation process.
After you’ve identified everyone that needs to be involved in the project, it’s important to build a business case for software with this group. Again, if you’re a small company this can be relatively informal, but regardless of company size, this step is crucial for evaluating vendors since this group will be responsible for ensuring the software is a good fit for the business.
Step 3: Align on budget
You need to ensure your budget for purchasing software is realistic given what you want out of the moving software: today and for the future.
Establish the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the project by reviewing the:
- Licensing costs of the software. Most SaaS vendors in the moving industry follow some kind of monthly pricing, either by the user or by truck. This is typically charged quarterly or annually.
- Hardware costs. Most cloud-based software doesn’t come with big hardware costs. That being said, if you want to equip your movers with a mobile app they can use on moves, you’ll likely want to consider the cost of adding a few internet-enabled tablets as well.
- Implementation costs. This varies depending on the amount of customization, consultation, integration, and training required.
- Maintenance and support costs. There are cheaper solutions on the market that simply provide and deploy the software but lack after sales maintenance and support. Most top cloud-based moving software providers pride themselves on providing stellar after-sales support and maintenance—something that’s needed for almost all highly customized software solutions. Expect to pay a little extra here to save money down the road.
Take those costs and see whether you’re able to afford the moving software given your overall budget.
Business case discussions will also need to be included in budget discussions. As you know, the stronger the business case, the higher the odds of getting the required budget, even if it may initially seem out of reach.
Step 4: Build your business case
If you’re NOT the key decision maker, you will have to make a business case. As you may know, a business case is a formal document that is written in the early stages of a project. It provides the justification for the project to determine if it’s worth pursuing and is often submitted to someone more senior to get the required funding and approval. It also ensures alignment of the solution and the problem.
At a high level, the business case will cover the problem being solved, the proposed solution, and the benefits, risks, and costs. When writing a business case, it’s important to keep it concise and minimize jargon.
Below is a business case template you can use to write your business case for new moving software:
Business Case for Moving Software
- Executive summary: A short summary of no more than a page. Write it last. This will cover:
- A statement mentioning that you want to buy moving software (seems obvious, but it’s easy to forget)
- A summary of the business problems (s) you want to solve
- A short section on what is driving a need for this change now
- Details on the benefits that software can provide for your moving company, e.g., cost savings, time savings, and more revenue
No specific software is mentioned during the business case as you’re just highlighting the need for software and how it could help.
- Solution description: Mention the type of software (i.e., moving software), the features it should likely include, and the benefits it will provide your company. Detail the department that will benefit, like accounting and operations. Examples of benefits might include improved workflow, improved organization, and a better customer experience as a result.
- Financials: You need to provide a cost overview and an ROI calculation to the person who will approve the funding. The cost overview needs to cover the TCO (See Step 3 of this buying guide) and an ROI calculation so the economic buyer can compare the potential return against the costs.
- Project timelines: Include a list of all deliverables, sub-tasks, and dates for completion.
- Project Organization: Mention names and job titles of those involved in the project (refer to the RACI framework highlighted earlier)
Step 5: Build your vendor list
Now that you know what you need and have identified your buying committee and budget, it’s time to start researching vendors. There are a variety of ways you can do this:
- Ask for referrals from your industry connections.
- Speak to colleagues to see if they have any connections.
- Do some web research on moving software vendors and read review websites like Capterra and consider adding only companies with average review scores of 4 and over.
- Read case studies of happy customers.
- Use LinkedIn groups to connect with people.
When doing your research, be sure to quickly refer back to your needs to see what software, at first glance, satisfies those needs—you can whittle down your list in the next step; the idea is to first get a holistic picture and not get caught in the weeds.
Step 6: Evaluate vendors
Here are a few key questions to keep in mind while evaluating software vendors:
- Does the moving software provide what I need/solve my problems/help me achieve my future state?
- Is the software within budget?
- Is ongoing training and support included in the cost of your subscription? What kind of support is offered?
- Is the software easy to use for all team members?
- Is the software configurable?
- Is the software cloud-based?
- Is the software secure?
- Does the software support integrations that may be useful for my business?
- Will the software scale with my business/grow with me?
- What is the provider's reputation?
- What’s their customer support like?
- Does the vendor have a product roadmap?
- What is the character of the people like? Think of your software vendor as an extension of your team. Are they a good culture fit?
Step 7: Create your shortlist and request demos
After evaluating vendors, it’s time to decide which vendors you’re going to speak to and start booking meetings and demos. Demos are a chance to dig deeper to evaluate each supplier on your shortlist based on software features and company dynamics. For instance, it’s much easier to assess if there’s a culture fit through interacting with vendors compared to simply just doing research.
For vendors that are a fit, be sure to provide them with the necessary information they need to prepare for the demo, such as details about the current operation, features that are a must-have, and use cases that are important to you. It may even be an idea to present your core problem/main use cases and ask how they would fix it with their software.
All this information will allow vendors to generate informed responses and solutions to your problems and serve as a great baseline for eliminating vendors that are unable to solve your problems efficiently.
💡Pro tip: Look for vendors that offer recorded demos to collect basic information before going into a demo with a sales rep. Check out Supermove’s video demo here.
Step 8: Make a purchase decision
All the prior steps will help you make an informed software-buying decision. But you’ll want to pay careful attention to the demo results, the vendor’s ability to meet the evaluation criteria (e.g., needs, budget, and ease of use), and the ROI vs. the TCO (refer back to the ROI calculator in Step 4).
Step 10: Manage risk
After signing the contract, you can usually expect a main point of contact from the vendor to be assigned to your account to manage communication and implementation. You will likely also have to assign a point of contact on your side to ensure a smooth flow of communication. The vendor will usually create a project plan to ensure everything stays on track and to hold people accountable.
To prep your team for change, you should hold an internal project kick-off meeting between all stakeholders and the representative (s) from the moving software side. The project plan will be disclosed during this meeting, with the meeting serving to provide a roadmap with timelines and deliverables for implementation, deployment, and training. This ensures everyone knows what to expect in the coming days, weeks, and months. It will set you up for success.
The bottom line on buying enterprise software
The right moving software can solve the inefficiencies of pen and paper and homegrown moving software while improving your reputation, overall customer experience, and revenue.
But finding the right moving software and switching from pen and paper or an existing legacy system can often feel like a monumental task. The task often seems so big that many don’t even bother starting.
The key is to simplify the process by taking a structured approach and following the right steps.
Ultimately, you're looking for a software vendor provider who will act as more than a vendor—they should be a technology partner. Where a vendor will usually provide specific products and services, a partner is an extension of your business, working with you to understand your growth plan. Tech partners usually go the extra mile for their clients and are able to adjust the services they provide as your needs change. Finding this kind of relationship is key to successfully rolling out a new software solution.