Half of all small businesses close before they turn five. One way to prevent your business from going under is to make sure you’re using the right software.

In fact, Ginger Siegel, North American small business lead at Mastercard, cites using the right tech to manage daily operations as essential for growth.

But knowing how important software is doesn’t ease the shopping process. With thousands of products for buyers to choose from—and minimal time to choose—your risk of choosing the wrong products is high.

To learn the biggest challenges for software buyers, GetApp surveyed hundreds of software shoppers on our own website. (You can learn more about our methodology here.)

We wanted to learn what motivates people to start shopping for software; who has the final say on software buying decisions; and what their biggest headaches are when shopping for new products.

Here’re 4 of our key findings

  • Forty percent of respondents say that needing to automate manual tasks motivates them to start shopping for new software.
  • Nearly half (48%) of respondents spend less than 2 weeks researching software before making a purchase.
  • Nearly 3 in 10 (29%) respondents say their biggest challenge when selecting cloud software is ensuring integration with their existing tools.
  • More than 3 in 10 respondents (31%) say the main thing they would change about the software selection process is making it easier to compare products.

Now for the good news: Each of these problems has a solution. By spending more time shopping for software to automate the tasks that take the most manual labor, you’ll empower your team to make more well-informed buying decisions.

GetApp’s recommended actions

  • Start your software search with the goal of finding software to automate tasks. Read more
  • Allot 3 – 6 months to evaluate a shortlist of products via demos, free trials, and reviews. Read more
  • Confirm that all software tools on your shortlist integrate with your current products. Read more
  • Build a comparison chart to see how products stack up against one another. Read more

Let’s dive deeper into our 4 key survey findings

1. Automation isn’t enough

40% say needing to automate compells them to buy software

Automation uses machines to complete rules-based, repetitive tasks without the need for human intervention.

Much conversation about automation focuses on technology replacing human labor. But this is short-sighted: Automation is most effective when used in tandem with humans and when each perform tasks that they excel at. For example, humans are better at having nuanced client conversations, but computers are better at scanning documents to find specific information.

Business leaders understand automation’s power: 4 in 10 told us that the need to automate tasks spurs them to start shopping for software.

GetApp’s advice: Automate your most time-consuming tasks

Next week, use a time-tracking app to record how long it takes you to complete each task and process that you and your colleagues perform. Then, assess which of those tasks are best suited to automation.

Any rules-based, repetitive task is a strong candidate for automation. From managing financial paperwork to scoring sales leads, there’s no shortage of automation options.

To get the most value from your software purchase, shop for tools that offer personalization and conversation options along with automation.

For example, if you’re searching for a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, look for one that uses predictive analytics to notify sales teams that users who bought one product are likely to buy another.

Software that can automate, customize, and personalize tasks across teams will yield the best investment for your business.

2. Businesses don’t have enough time to research software

48% of people spend less than 2 weeks researching before buying software

Shopping for software is a task that’s often assigned to someone on top of their existing workload. Perhaps it’s no wonder that people fly through the process.

Nearly half of software shoppers (48%) spend less than two weeks researching options before they make a purchase.

GetApp’s advice: Create an evaluation plan before you shop

Give software shopping the time it deserves. Once you know which business tasks you must automate, make a shortlist of software tools that have features to fulfill these tasks. Then, set aside a period of 3 – 6 months to evaluate each product.

The process might not end up taking this long, but it’s better to be cautious. A few years ago, public companies enduring known software failures lost $2.7 billion in stock market value. The risks of making a bad software purchase surpass the pains of using software that’s a current poor fit.

3. Integration is a must-have

29% of respondents say integration is the biggest challenge of buying a new software

No single piece of software will solve all your problems. Even if you use a multi-purpose product such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, you’ll likely need several tools to fulfill your business goals.

That’s why integrations play a crucial role: They help a diverse range of tools “talk” to each other, allowing you to build an app stack of products that all work toward a shared goal.

Integrations are one of cloud software’s biggest benefits: Allowing data to flow freely between systems keeps it from getting isolated within certain applications.

Business owners know how crucial integrations are: Nearly 3 in 10 respondents (29%) say their biggest challenge when selecting cloud software is ensuring integrations with their existing tools.

GetApp’s advice: Make sure all software integrates with what you use

Confirm that all software tools on your shortlist integrate with the tools that your team already uses.

To get started, use GetApp’s AppFinder to share which tools your team already uses. From there, you can find apps that integrate with your current toolkit.

Once you’ve progressed to your trial periods, let customer service reps know at the start of your free trials which tools their products must integrate with. If you’re shopping for new project management software and it’s essential for that software to integrate with Google Analytics, that will rule out several options.

That said, don’t rule an option out completely if it’s missing a key integration. Zapier, an integration platform, lets you build connections between 300 apps.

You can also use a range of integrations created by members of the Zapier community. If a software product has the features you need but is short on integrations, building them yourself is an option worth pursuing.

4. Comparison game

31% of people want to be able to more easily compare products

Buying any new software tool will involve pitting it against competitors. One product might have a gorgeous user interface while lacking key automation features you need. Or, it might automate the right tasks, but not be the best fit for a business of your size.

Once you’re done creating your software shortlist, you’ll need to see how these tools stack up against each other. And this is a big headache for many software buyers.

More than 3 in 10 respondents (31%) say the main thing they would change about the software selection process is making it easier to compare products.

GetApp’s advice: Build your own comparison chart to see how the products on your shortlist stack up against one another

Let’s say you need new operations management software. You can use GetApp’s “Compare” feature to see what each tool offers side-by-side.

To start, add up to four products by hitting the “ADD TO COMPARE” button on the right-hand side of each product in our catalog:

how to use GetApp's software comparison tool
Software selected using GetAPp’s “ADD TO COMPARE” and “COMPARE NOW” Buttons

Once you hit the “COMPARE NOW” button, you can view these products side-by-side. You’ll see the platforms supported, pricing details, features supported, and more at a glance. You can also see reviews per product at a glance, then filter them by average rating, company size, industry, and other criteria.

Screenshot of results created from GetApp's software comparison tool
Software selected for GetApp’s Comparison chart

Still need help selecting the right software to automate tasks?


Methodology

GetApp conducted a six-question survey of visitors to our website between 28 January and 4 February, 2019. The survey received responses from 414 visitors who were based in the U.S. This survey did not collect data based on industry or company size.