Purchasing new software can be a difficult process, especially when considering the differing pain points of each software option. The goal is to research and find software that avoids pain points and works more efficiently than the previous software or system in place.
In this article...
Start with a list
When beginning a software search, it is best to create a detailed list of the reasons for wanting new software as well as the problems the software should resolve. When speaking with vendors, this list will help in prioritizing solutions and narrowing down options.
Addressing software pain points
In some cases, the software is not being replaced but is needed by a startup as part of the company’s new computer system, or it is being added by an already established business as their next evolutionary step. In other cases, the new software is meant to replace older, legacy software that has become outdated, inefficient, and can no longer be updated.
When software can no longer be updated, a variety of problems can take place, ranging from bugs downloaded during the last update to the risk the system may crash, leaving employees helpless and customers to wonder what’s going on.
Other pain points to consider when researching and buying software include:
Some software simply doesn’t work well with other forms of software. The most obvious examples are attempts to download IBM software onto an Apple computer. More subtle issues can crop up when the software lacks compatibility but is designed for a different industry.
The software’s installation process, ideally, should be simple but may not be. This is something which should be researched by software buyers, as having a software system that is not in operation is not only a waste but can slow down work schedules, cause confusion, and break expectations.
Growing companies sometimes take a path that involves developing and adding ad hoc solutions to get around the weaknesses of their existing software. These previously installed ad hoc solutions can conflict with the new software’s efficiency.
Or, in another scenario, the new software was selected with the goal of replacing the ad hoc processes. Before purchasing the software, be certain the new software thoroughly meets the business’s needs.
All-in-one vs. multiple software systems
In the last decade, cloud-based software solutions have grown rapidly. As the cloud continues to gain popularity, more businesses have started using software as a service for a variety of processes. As a consequence, all-in-one software solutions are fast becoming the preferred option for businesses wanting well-integrated software with no glitches or hiccups.
All-in-one software offers a number of advantages a single-purpose software solution cannot. Sales reps can use an all-in-one-platform rather than jumping from one software format to another. And training is much easier.
Moreover, using multiple software systems increases the chances of mistakes being made. If an employee doesn’t have to pause and think about which app to use, access and filling out forms becomes a smooth and efficient process.
Most people prefer software that is easy to use. Software should be given a test run on how user-friendly it is before being installed and integrated with an organization’s computer system. While doing the test run, open the calendar and see how well it works.
User-friendly software is often more successful and popular than those supporting useful but complex and convoluted services. It’s not uncommon for software users to avoid confusing and complicated programs.
In order to ensure a good user experience, successful software developers thoroughly test their products. Thorough testing allows a program with many advanced features to be user-friendly by using simple, clean, and intuitive designs and instructions.
Saving money is often a reason for taking on new software as a way to improve efficiency. Unfortunately, the software sometimes fails to meet expectations, causing delays and chaos and saving little or no money. Sometimes the missing savings is the result of hidden fees.
Vendors often give discounts for licenses when selling software. Maintenance on the purchased software typically starts out between 18% and 22% of the licensing costs, and then increases with time.
This situation can easily lead to spending more money on maintenance without realizing it. Additionally, after the initial license discount expires, the customer begins paying full price for the software’s license.
The attractive initial costs may seduce a software buyer into purchasing licenses that never get used and paying unnecessarily high maintenance costs.
At times, innocence can lead to software problems. When this happens, reliable customer service is essential. When customer service is not reliable—a problem that takes place more often with smaller software vendors—software can remain useless for several days.
Investigating the reviews of a vendor you are considering is always a good idea. If the vendor’s customer service has received several bad reviews, moving on to another vendor might be worthwhile.
Dashboards can be expensive, depending on the needs of an organization and its size. Some dashboard providers demand a license for each person who uses one. On the other hand, some dashboard providers offer a monthly or yearly subscription, which can scale based on the size of the business.
In addition, connectivity and compatibility can be a problem for business dashboards. A dashboard which can’t be used with a business’s software platform is a waste of time and money.
Or, in some cases, the dashboard connects, but the data it provides is incorrect, limited, or outdated. To resolve the problem, users must manually input the data, effectively defeating the purpose of using a dashboard.
Typically, scalability issues come up as the software’s workload increases and passes beyond its ability to scale, causing performance to drop. Initially, the problem may not show up, as the workload during its early use is often fairly light.
As the workload increases, scalability problems present themselves. Limitations that had seemed unimportant start to cause problems.
The bottom line
Rushing to make a decision on which software to use can be disastrous. Inadequate research of the system and the business’s needs by the software buyer can almost guarantee the new software will not be a good fit. This concern can be reduced or even eliminated with a deliberate software selection process.
When selecting new software it is best to identify which problems need to be resolved or which processes should be streamlined or automated. Staff should be involved in a group discussion to create a prioritized list of needs and wants. Another consideration is the selected software’s ability to integrate with the current platforms and workflows.
Targeted software solutions focusing on a particular process or problem should be considered as well as all-in-one software solutions. It is important to consider the pros and cons of the two options, especially when considering integration and the ability of the software to scale as the company grows. Customer support options and staff training should also be considerations.