Choosing Software – Don’t Go All In Preflop

Buying Business SoftwareI love the strategy and skill behind poker – especially Texas Hold’em.  I love how great poker players can read people, assess available information quickly, and make bold, timely, yet wise decisions.  This post isn’t about poker, but I’d like to use a poker analogy to make a point.  In Texas Hold’em, the first round of betting takes place before the flop (the flop is when the dealer lays out three cards for the entire table to see).  Preflop betting is all about your position, the value of the cards in your hand, and your ability to read the competition.  You have very little information at this point and the only way to learn more is to bet.  Occasionally, you see players go all in preflop.  This either means they have a really strong hand or they are desperate (or both).  You risk losing it all with little to no information.  It’s a risky proposition.

In business, as with poker, information is power.  The more information you have, the better decisions you’ll make.  Just like in poker, the only way to get information is to pay for it.  You spend time, money, and other resources to build your business, invest in employees, and learn about the market.  Why is it then that businesses regularly make bad decisions when it comes to buying business software?  Many businesses make tremendous investments in software without investing resources to make sure it’s the right fit or implemented properly.  It’s like going all in preflop in poker.  Businesses buy the latest and greatest software solution thinking it’s going to auto-magically solve all their problems.

I think a lot of this is human nature.  Most executives are scared of technology and just want the problem solved.  The marketing pitches of the software companies make it sound like their solution will solve all of the company’s problems.  Unfortunately, there is not a panacea and there’s never a quick fix.  It always takes hard work and the proper investment of time and money to implement a solution the right way.

Software and technology are beautiful things – when purchased and implemented the right way.  However, don’t just buy a piece of software and think it’ll solve all of your problems.  Instead, invest time and resources upfront to map out your business processes, evaluate and test multiple solutions, garner support and buy-in from the team members that will be using the solution, and make sure you understand the total cost of ownership.  Go through a process of picking the right solution for your business.  You can buy the greatest tool in the world, but it won’t work for your business if it’s not the right fit.  Just like buying the best book on poker isn’t going to make me a great poker player, buying software without doing the work upfront to ensure it’s the right fit and it’s implemented the right way won’t make you successful.

Next time, go through a process when buying business software.  Spend a little time and money upfront making sure you pick the right solution.  Use a phased approach and make sure you are learning along the way.  Your business will not only reap the benefits, you’ll save a lot of time and money.  Worst case, if the product isn’t a good fit, at least you’ll find out quickly and only spend minimal resources.  As they say in the poker world, you’ll live to see another hand and make up for it down the road.