Software developers conduct needs analysis studies to determine what type of features potential users would like to see in software products. The same techniques can help you choose which existing software product will best meet the needs of your sign shop. Here’s a quick overview of how to conduct a needs analysis for sign shop management software.
Evaluate your current methods of quoting, accepting, and processing jobs
Which areas of in-shop and client communications and collaboration already work well? Where do bottlenecks occur in the process of getting each job from quoting to delivery to invoicing? What weaknesses exist in current system of estimating jobs, processing orders, scheduling jobs, shipping, and tracking profitability?
Identify the portions of your business where the actual performance lags behind optimal performance
What capabilities do your competitors have that new clients might expect you to have? For example, do your customers expect quotes to be delivered faster than you are currently providing them? With regards to internal operations, can you quote small jobs with the same level of accuracy as you quote large projects? Can you quickly order the materials you need for an incoming job?
What happens when customers request changes to a job in progress? Are systems in place to easily adapt to changes and rush orders?
Get feedback from prospective users of your new sign shop management software
As a business owner, you will be interested in features that can help you make better business decisions about pricing, equipment utilization, etc. But your employees will have different concerns. What types of features can help make their jobs easier and their daily priorities clearer? What types of features can help reduce errors or duplication of effort?
If you are considering adding an online ordering module to your sign shop management software, what types of capabilities would your biggest customers like to use? What types of capabilities would they need to have in order to use it?
Evaluate the environment in which the software will be used
How many employees will need to use the system? What type of financial and workflow collaboration tools will your sign shop software need to communicate with? QuickBooks? Drive? Slack? What types of devices will be used to run the software? Will you need to be able to use the software from a job site or client office?
Differentiate between needs and wants
Which features do you need immediately and which ones would be nice to add later? Which features do you need to achieve the primary benefits you would like your sign shop to achieve within the next two or three years. This list will be useful when it comes time to evaluate your best options in sign shop management software.
List the types of equipment, software, and materials used in your shops and the types of services your shop provides
What types of sign shop software is currently available to handle all the mix of sign-making and ancillary printing and finishing services you offer? Which options deliver the capabilities you need at the price that meets your budget?
This step will narrow your choices considerably, particularly if your sign shop offers a combination of grand-format sign printing, custom sign design and installation, vehicle wraps, and short-run digital printing for small businesses.
Identify any functions that you believe must be customized or custom-developed
The perfect, one-size-fits-all sign-shop-management program doesn’t exist because sign shops must evolve as quickly as their customers and competitors do. Each time you choose to introduce innovative services that your competitors don’t yet offer, you may need to customize your sign-shop software accordingly.
After conducting a needs analysis, it should be much easier to identify the two or three sign shop management products that might meet your existing and future needs. As you evaluate available sign shop software within your price range, ask about the options for having the software customized to meet the full range of capabilities that your sign shop needs.
Choosing the wrong system can be costly. If it’s too complicated for your employees to use, they will develop workarounds. And every time your employees perform work outside of the system, you’re losing the ability to a clear and complete picture of all of the jobs that you’re processed during the year.
Many sign shop owners are impressed with the ease and flexibility of adopting Ordant software. It can be quickly easily customized to handle a mix of products and services, including screen printing, grand-format printing, wide-format printing, decal and label printing, vehicle wrap projects, and custom sign design and installation.
Your employees will be impressed by how easy it is to use. For a demonstration, visit www.ordant.com