There comes a time in the life of a small to midsize business owner when the technology you're using to run your operations stops being good enough. The Excel sheet you use to keep track of customers becomes unruly, or the disparate collection of cloud-based programs you've deployed starts getting harder to manage. When this happens, growth can suffer.

To keep moving forward, you must have the right software in place. Cloud-based platforms, in particular, make it easy for companies to scale up and keep costs under control. These programs, which include customer relationship management (CRM) software, human capital management platforms (HCM), and others, operate over the internet, rather than on servers at a company's office. Indeed, many companies are turning to the cloud, with Kenneth Research estimating the public cloud market will top $623 billion in 2023, up from $272 billion in 2018.

When you're ready to upgrade your technology, however, it's important not to just buy the first program you come in contact with. You need to do your due diligence and make sure the software you're implementing will really help your company grow.

DETERMINE YOUR COMPANY'S OBJECTIVES

Many companies make the mistake of buying a one-size-fits-all program, while others look for the cheapest option. Executives are often swayed by the technology itself--the bells and whistles, the sleekness of the interface--while some create a mish-mash of several platforms, which then confuses staff, who may not know what software to use when.

The only way to figure out which technology is right for your company is to think carefully about your business objectives. What are the pain points you want to fix? What kind of business do you want to be now? What about five, ten years from now?

Once you've identified your goals, choose the technology that will improve the most important of them. It's not necessary to address them all. (If you don't have a complex supply chain, don't choose a program that gives you the most robust supply chain.) Then take a step back, and ask yourself what you care most about. Is improving the customer experience on the top of your list? Is keeping staff happy and satisfied most important? Think about the main areas of your business you want to mature and tackle those first. The rest can come as your business expands.

DECIDE WITH YOUR TEAM

It's important that these business objectives are not decided by one person. If you're running a smaller company, then the leadership team--CEO, CFO, COO, and the head of IT--should all be involved. If you're the head of a midsize operation, then you'll want to consider creating a task force with people from all divisions and various management levels. Why the collaboration? Because what you think your company's most important problem is may not be what everyone else thinks. If you notice a discrepancy between what various leaders or groups want, then you may have another issue on your hands. It could mean that you haven't properly communicated your vision or your priorities or that you don't have the kind of focus you need to get to the next level of growth.

As you consider the business objectives that will ultimately lead you to the right technology, these discussions are beneficial to all. If you know what you need to improve upon, it becomes much easier to figure out which software will best help you achieve that. The result is a win-win: You'll come out of the process with a good tech solution, and your entire team will know exactly what it needs to do to forge ahead.

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To find more about how to determine your company's needs--and what software options are available--read "The Technologies Driving Growth (Even During The Most Challenging Times)," an in-depth e-book from Inc., FastCo Works, and SAP.