Does cheap software exist? Absolutely! However, the term cheap has a negative connotation for good reason: it does not mean the same as good value. Instead, “cheap” defines the compromise on quality for reduced cost. In selecting inventory or accounting software for your business, should you be looking at what offers the best value, or simply looking for cheap software? I guess it depends on how you value your business.
Cheap is a relative term, and means something different depending on who you ask. For example, to a Fortune 500 company, cheap software might come with a multi-million dollar price tag, while a small home-run business might cut and run at the sight of a $1,000 price tag.
The amount of money to spend on good and appropriate software depends on a number of factors including:
- How big and complex is your business? It is appropriate for a small mom & pop pizza shop to run on QuickBooks whereas it would not be appropriate for most distributors and wholesalers to do so. It is appropriate for small and simple businesses to use introductory systems while those managing inventory, accounting, a warehouse, product costing and sales require software in an entirely different segment. Learn more about the different segments of software and their relative pricing.
- Do you require specialized capabilities? Introductory software systems may include the basic accounting or inventory management pieces required by many small businesses, but when it comes to advanced functionality such as Lot Tracking, a more robust and comprehensive solution is required. As your business needs grow, you may have to advance to the next level of software functionality to accommodate your businesses processes.
- What are your business objectives? Are you trying to grow your business or cut costs and hold steady? A business that is looking to grow will use technological innovations to remain competitive and acquire new customers from competitors. For example, eCommerce is growing at an astounding pace and those that do not implement an eCommerce system may be left behind by those that are. On the other hand, if you are not looking for business growth you may be content sticking with your old system. However, bear in mind that a robust inventory and accounting system can help you reduce costs as well. An investment in new software may allow you to eliminate a salary or two – something that can provide significant savings year over year and cover the costs of a new system many times over.
In summary, yes you can find cheap software. The question is: do you want to? Just like any other strategic investment (such as new staff or equipment), a new software system may seem expensive, but is often long overdue. Consider your priorities, the level of functionality you require and the size of your business to make an informed decision, attempting to avoid looking at nothing but the sticker price.