Selecting the Right Software

By: Christiene Villanueva

What factors are important to me?

For a company with deep pockets, price comes lower in the list. For a company using a collaboration software to process business information, security is high priority. Again if a solution forms an important part of a company's business, it is important that it integrates well with existing systems. For dynamic industries like real estate, short training times are important.

A Weighing Scheme to Analyze Software

A simple yet effective approach to analyzing software is attributing weights. All the six factors - features, background, cost, ease-of-use, familiarity and security are attributed weights out of ten according to their relative importance to us. Accordingly, each factor is also attributed weights according to how the software scores on each. Now, the weights on each factor are multiplied and added. The total score is the score of the software. The software with the best score would be a good bet.

Know Thy Software

By this step you would have selected a software. But that is still not the end. For all our theorizing and researching, the software still has to pass its toughest test. It would not be wrong to twist the oft used adage to suit software - "the proof of the software lies in its using".

Most software allow you a free trial period. It would be a good idea to seriously use this period to analyze the software. Avoid vendors pushing latest features and versions. They make look pretty, but they are yet unstable and haven't undergone the test of time. Try to go for versions that have been around a bit and proved their stability.

It is important to stay focused during this testing period because the impact is going to be long lasting. Follow systematic planning. Identify objectives and needs, develop a testing plan, lay out the timelines (1week, 1 month etc), and designate people from different departments to try out different features. Set responsibilities and goals so that testers take their job seriously. This focus will ensure that the software is tested thoroughly in close to real conditions.

THE DECISION!

Don't hesitate to put the onus onto the company to prove itself. Let the company prove to you the features that seem important to you. For example, if security is of prime importance, ask the company to display how their solution scores high on security. Don't hesitate to call them if you have questions.

Test their service levels to see if it lives up to their promises. If you submit a ticket, is it promptly responded to? Is a good solution provided? If the problem requires live help, do you get it fast enough? When you call in with a problem, is it a live person or an automated message you converse with?

This is as extensively as you can analyze a software. You're educated enough to make a choice which will most likely not fail you. You shall surely not be disappointed in your decision.

We hope this article gave you deeper insights into the software selection process. Even if you don't follow the entire process step by step, a broad understanding of relevant factors will keep you wary, and help you make a more informed and educated choice. Happy computing!

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