Software solutions come in many shapes and sizes and for various fields of application. Although there is a wide variety of systems and programs, some criteria are important for every software solution. Whatever program you are looking for, for whatever purpose you are going to use it, make sure that it meets these criteria:
Preferably select a software solution that has been developed on a solid platform and has proven to be successful. After all, you do not want to be let down by the system, not now and not in the future. Bugs, limitations, not functioning properly; it will cause frustration and it costs you money. Make sure your organization does not depend on one or a few technicians who know and support your system. In order to continue to work successfully with the software in the future, it is wise to choose for a system on a popular and stable platform where many companies and users rely on every day, where new developments are made for and whose source code is stored at an escrow agent.
A software solution with a recognizable look and feel increases the chance of adoption by the end users. The learning curve of a recognizable system is short, so a limited amount of training is sufficient for the users. Moreover, an intuitive and user-friendly system is very pleasant to work with. That is why it is important not only to pay attention to the features and functionalities of software solutions, but also to the design, the user interface, the menu structure and the workflow. Ultimately, you want employees to embrace the software and you want them to notice that it helps them in their daily job.
Software should be something you can rely on. Complete functionalities, excellent performance and doing what it should do. You increase the chance of getting a reliable system by opting for a product that is being developed, tested, used and supported by a large community. Software that thousands of end users rely on every day and that has been extensively tested is not likely to disappoint you. Also take notice of the plans of the software for the future; will the supplier continue to work on the development of the software to ensure that users are provided with a reliable and top-quality system in the future?
The requirements your organization sets for software change over time. When selecting systems, it is therefore important to also take these changing circumstances into account. Will the software grow together with your organization? Is the system flexible enough to offer a solution to meet new requirements? An important aspect here is the technology of the system. It must be future-proof and allow you to benefit from your software for a long time. Think about interfaces and integrations with other systems in your organizations or third party systems, does your software enable you to do that?
It might sound like pushing an open door; software should bring value. Yet, people tend to forget about this from time to time. Return on investment is what you should focus on. When you invest in software, take the total costs and the expected returns into consideration. Which processes will go faster and more efficiently, how much time will you save and how will your organization become more effective? If the ROI calculation turns out positive, you know that investing in the software is the right decision.
Remko Gaastra is President of Dysel North America. He discusses on a day-to-day basis the risks and challenges (potential) customers experience with software.