You know the right software could help your janitorial business run more smoothly, but the search can seem overwhelming. If you’re not sure where to start or just keep hopping between websites, it’s easy to feel stuck.
In this article—the second in our series on choosing a janitorial business management system—we share some advice for getting unstuck. (You can read the first post on how to know you need business management software here.)
The key to getting unstuck is setting priorities.
The first step in any major decision is identifying priorities. This helps ensure the solution you choose is the one you want by making it easier to weed through everything else.
As you know, there are lots of options out there when it comes to software. The right fit for someone else might not be the right fit for you. The best way to decide is to start with a solid foundation—your priority list.
Whether you’re just starting the process (or feeling buried under a mountain of research), pausing to outline your priorities can help. We’ve prepared some questions below to help you kick off—or reignite—your hunt for the right program.
Answer some foundational questions
Here are the seven questions we recommend asking to guide your priority-setting efforts:
- What are the top three features you're looking for?
- If you're currently using another product, what do you dislike about it?
- Will you require any integrations?
- What's your timeline for implementation?
- What are your "deal breakers?"
- What's your budget?
- What is most important to you?
What are the top three features you’re looking for?
As we covered in the first article, there are lots of benefits to using an overall business management platform (as opposed to a handful of one-off solutions). If you’re looking for a true, end-to-end business management system, it should include functionality in a wide variety of areas.
Identifying the top three things you want to get out of the software, though, can help when you’re comparing options. Two products might be similar in lots of areas, but maybe one of them has more robust quality control features while the other excels in scheduling. If you decide at the outset scheduling is more important for you, that could help you make a decision between the two alternatives.
Think about the different aspects of your business—estimating, scheduling, conducting site audits, sending invoices, generating reports, etc.—and pick a few that you would prioritize, even if you’d like a solution that handles all of them.
If you’re currently using another product, what do you dislike about it?
If you’re already using a business management platform but are in the market for a new one, you’re probably unhappy with what you’ve got. Or, if you’re using a variety of separate systems, you could have things you like or dislike about each of them.
What causes you and your colleagues the most frustration when interacting with your current software? Make note of these challenges, and of what you’d like to see handled differently in a new platform.
Alternatively, if there are features you couldn’t live without, write those down as well so you don’t forget to ask about them during a demo.
Will you require any integrations?
If certain integrations are necessary for you to use a new product effectively, be sure to record those early on.
It can help to distinguish between “must have” integrations (connections you need regardless of the new system’s capabilities) and “possible” integrations (connections you may or may not need based on the new system’s capabilities).
What’s your timeline for implementation?
Knowing your deadline for launching the new software can help you plan effectively. It’s also something you’ll want to share with the software providers you end up talking to, as they may have specific timelines required as part of their implementation process.
A flexible launch date is also fine if you can set milestones for yourself to keep the project from stalling.
What are your “deal breakers?”
You already identified the top three things you want to get out of the software—now, list anything you consider a deal breaker.
This exercise can easily get out of hand, so try to avoid making everything a deal breaker. Keeping the list at around 5-10 items can help ensure only the most serious requirements are included.
Do you absolutely have to have the ability to generate invoices automatically? Color code schedules? Attach images to site audit notes? Whatever your deal breakers are, make sure to get them down early in the process to save time later on.
What’s your budget?
Pricing varies between platforms based on a multitude of factors. If budget is a serious constraint for you, make sure you know how much you’re able to spend before diving too deep into any one solution.
What is most important to you?
Finally, consider what you find most important about the overall experience. Is it certain functionalities? A clean interface? Mobile access? Integrations? Onboarding assistance? Training and support services?
Setting expectations for the process as a whole is important. It can help broaden your perspective, introduce new questions, and avoid future frustrations.
Hopefully thinking through these questions has your wheels turning.
Before continuing your search, it’s worthwhile to type up a few key decisions based on the priorities you’ve identified. Such a document can then be shared with relevant stakeholders to make sure everyone’s in agreement.
This won’t just help keep all parties on the same page; it also acts as a great reference point to return to when questions or disagreements arise.
Once you’ve got your priorities in hand, it’s time for the third installment in this series! In our next article, we discuss tried-and-true strategies for researching the best software platforms available.
If you're interested in more stories like this, sign up for our monthly email newsletter featuring the best new content for janitorial businesses.