The Need to Balance Business and Product Development
Software companies must be built with a healthy balance between business and product development. One side of the business cannot overtake the other without drastic consequences. Hard economic times test the fortitude of software companies of all sizes; customers and prospects need to watch how companies behave in these times of stress.
On the business side, a company must continue to give exceptional customer service in order to retain current customers and attract new ones. Current customers will need flexibility when possible, great customer service, and continued innovation so they do not fall behind the technological bandwagon as the economy recovers. They will need solutions that help them decrease their costs.
New customers are out there who are still in the market for what is being sold. Business can still grow at times like these, especially those with products designed to lower costs and increase efficiency. New customers can take the place of any lost through economic attrition and create a broader base for the eventual upturn.
On the development side, a company must continue to refine its products and develop new ones, even though times are hard. If development is shut down to save costs, the company may find itself hopelessly behind the curve as the financial world rights itself and customers go to another vendor that has kept their product line fresh and relevant.
How to Determine a Company’s Stability
To determine the stability of a provider of any kind, a prospect should find out how long the company has been in business, and whether their long term customers are staying with them. Also, prospects should research the company online to determine any issues and contact those who use the products if possible. orums, blogs, and other forms of online communication may be available with information and opinions about a company’s performance.
The Small Company Advantage
There are advantages to using a small company in any economic climate, but in particular, in times when flexibility is needed there is bigger advantage than using a large company.
A large company may not be able to respond quickly or allow flexible terms, solutions packages, or payment options. A smaller company has an agility and a flatter hierarchy ; decisions are made much more quickly. Larger companies also may more often decide to cut costs by cutting customer service than a small company would. The larger company may feel it has the resources to last until the economy recovers and then they can think about customer service again. Until then, their customers will be poorly served. A small company knows it must maintain service to retain customers and attract new ones to stay in business. Both the company and the customer benefit.
Contributed by: Hoyt Mann, President, PhaseWare, Inc.