The majority of my clients are small businesses, and as such they spend an inordinate amount on software. They have software that they use for billing, accounting, payroll, benefits, taxes, sales, inventory/continuing property records, and scheduling. It’s expensive to buy the various software packages they need and the software is all complicated to learn and operate. And the software is generally not flexible and is hard to customize to provide what the company would like it to do. As small businesses they have to fit the software versus the software fitting them.
There is a new trend in software that might make it easier on small businesses. We are now seeing Do-It-For-Me (DIFM) services that combine cloud software platforms with specialized external labor to perform functions that many companies find costly and time-consuming
This idea of DIFM is gaining huge traction in the consumer world. We see millennials not buying cars and instead using Uber to get from place to place (cheaper than car ownership). There are now a ton of DIFM services on the web and you can hire somebody to temporarily help you with anything from weeding your garden to mailing packages for you. Now this concept is starting to spread to the business world.
The last revolution in software was the concept of buying only as much software as you need, or software-as-a-service (SaaS). There are now tons of software packages for businesses that you can pay for by the user and which don’t force you to make a huge upfront investment. But most of these software packages are still hard to learn and they don’t integrate into other software used by a business. So each SaaS program you buy is its own little silo separate from the rest of your business and which has the added drawback of normally having a steep learning curve. SaaS software can save a lot of money for a firm compared to buying a huge expensive package, but it doesn’t necessarily make life easier for employees or the business.
But Do-It-For-Me software aims to do just that – take the burden off your staff and let outside specialists take care of mundane tasks so your staff can focus on the important stuff. This idea has been around on a limited basis for years. For instance, there are huge, successful companies that handle payroll and all of the tax forms and employee deductions that companies hate keeping track of. In the telco world a lot of companies for years have sent their billing out to a service bureau who provides turnkey billing of customers.
There are now DIFM services for all sorts of software that offer to perform functions that most businesses hate doing. What these software platforms ask of a business is to supply them with the raw data they need, and then they do everything else. These new companies are staffed to be super customer-friendly making them easy to use.
There are a number of new start-ups in the DIFM arena and I expect many more as these companies find success. Some of the more interesting ones include:
- Buzz360 This firm has automated the marketing process for smaller companies. They can manage your web site, your social media interfaces, and other interfaces with customers. They offer a variety of tools for communicating with customers and potential customers.
- Bench offers a DIFM accounting service that eliminates the need for an in-house bookkeeper.
- UpCounsel offers a way to use small-business attorneys on an as-needed basis.
- Zenefits is interesting in that they give free Human Resources software to manage employee benefits and make their money from commissions on insurance.
Every firm has some functions that they hate to do. Such tasks either take valuable time away from other more important functions, or since they are hated they don’t get proper attention. You should definitely look around for alternatives, because there is probably somebody out there willing to take these kinds of tasks off your plate.