What to Look for in Software Products
So much software, so little time to try it all. So how do you choose what best fits your company? Which features are the most important? What’s the deal-breaker and what’s the deal-maker? We have some pointers.
Convincing your employees to adopt new products might prove difficult, since people aren’t really pleased to go out of their comfort zone. Once they get used to using a certain piece of software, trying out anything else is going to seem like a chore. This behaviour conveys a clear message: you only have one chance to implement a new system, so you need to do it right. Here’s how.
First of all, there are three types of software running in a company – system software, programming software, application software. Now, you’re not going to get a lot of wiggle room for all three of them; in fact, only the last one can give you headaches. System software is pretty straightforward, it consists of operating systems, drivers, firmware etc. Not much to choose from here. What you see is what you get. Programming software is clear-cut as well – whatever the market wants, the market gets. But it’s at application software that things get tricky. And that’s what we’re going to dissect in this article.
There’s no guarantee that the software that you choose is going to fit like a glove in your company. Just as there is no one-size-fits-all tech solution for all the wants and needs of the employees. However, paying great attention to a few aspects can pave the way to success. These are: UX/UI design, customizations, security, how open to automation the software is, and what level of customer service it promises.
Let’s take them one by one.
1. UX/ UI design
At first glance, UX (User Experience) and UI (User Interface) might seem like they’re the same thing. After all, the user interface outlines how the user feels while interacting with the software. In fact, they are individual parts that work together towards the same goal: engaging the user. Think of it this way: if the UI designer has to think about how to draw a button (size, shape, colour etc.), the UX designer has to decide where exactly to place said button so that the user journey is effortless.
If the software has a trial version, experiment with it. If there’s a demo available, request it. You wouldn’t buy a hat without trying it on first, would you? Same goes for software. Have a taste before deciding to buy the cake. Better still, ask your employees to have a go and see what they think about it. After all, they’ll be the ones to use it on a daily basis.
One other crucial thing to analyse here is how well the new piece of software integrates with the company’s existing processes. Does it blend right in, or does it feel a bit disruptive because it doesn’t follow the same organizational patterns? Remember, fast, fluid user onboarding means increased productivity. It’s simple: if the users find it really easy to learn how to use it, then interacting with it daily will be quick and comfortable. Less time spent in apps, more time to be spent on tasks.
2. Customizations and updates
Even though there are a multitude of apps out there, similar to one another, but still different in some aspects, sometimes it can be difficult to find precisely what your company needs. This leaves you with two options: either you develop the app you need yourself (which we agree is not the handiest option) or you find that software whose developers are willing to customize for you.
There are two categories of customizations that an app might require: usability and functionality.
2.1. Usability customizations
Suppose you’ve found your dream app. It’s got everything you need, it looks sleek, using it is child’s play. But then, you realize it would be so much easier to have a favourite section, or maybe switch two menus, or drag the buttons around. Can you do that? Actually, can you ask the software’s team to make that possible for you? Usually, app companies are eager to receive feedback from their clients, so they can deliver a well-rounded system. But it doesn’t hurt to check beforehand.
2.2. Functionality customizations
Moving menus or buttons around is one thing, asking the app to perform additional actions beside what it was designed to is another. Depending on the specifics of the operations that require fresh programming, the supplying company might show signs of reluctance. But this is just a probability, not a certainty. In fact, the exact opposite could happen – you could come up with such a great idea that the company will choose to add the feature to the core app, not just as an extra to your version.
Either in usability or in functionality, apps must be kept up to date. Technology is advancing rapidly; if you want to stay relevant in the market, you must keep up with the times. Before committing to a certain program, investigate their update schedule. Do they update on a regular basis? Are the updates brought to the app pertinent and competitive? Are the changes communicated properly? In today’s business environment, there’s no time to be left behind.
We know security features are important to have, but they’re also supposed to be kept updated, so they can handle the latest threats. We know and yet, we don’t act on it. According to a recent study, almost 80% of people believe that updating security software is very important. However, many still don’t update or even know if or when they should update their applications.
Always start from the assumption that there are cybercriminals out there who, given the chance, will attack your company by targeting its vulnerabilities. Whenever you’re assessing a potential new software, be sure to check its security status, alongside the level of company and team involvement into keeping security crisp and competent. You can never be too safe when it comes to your company’s data.
4. Features Automatability
We can say without a doubt that the trend of the century is automation. Companies are looking to automate as many redundant, menial tasks as possible. If a computer can do it, thus freeing up employees’ schedule, then it should be done. It creates more opportunities to develop, innovate, outperform competitors. Slowly but surely, it’s turning from a nice-to-have feature into a mandatory one. Needless to say, if you have to choose, always go for the software developed with automation in mind. It means that the supplier’s attitude is spot-on and you can step together into the future.
5. Customer service
Last, but not least, you have to test the customer service waters before purchasing your company’s brand-new piece of software. Keep in mind that your business will rest on that app’s performance. If something should go wrong, you have to be able to fix it immediately. And to do that, you have to rely on the customer service assistants. Are they available? Are they prepared to handle your requests? How are their communication skills?
Be careful not to jump to conclusions, though; for example, using chatbots is not a sign of laziness, as it has been discovered that people sometimes prefer to interact with chatbots instead of humans. So if you come across a chatbot, don’t dismiss it immediately, see what it’s capable of.