software solutions

An 8-Step Process to Evaluate Software Solutions for Your Business

Entrepreneurs are wise to make use of software to automate and streamline day-to-day processes. But knowing which software tool to choose is challenging.

Here’s a software evaluation process that will help you decide which tools to add to your list of options and how to evaluate the ones you’re considering.

Decide who will lead the software evaluation process

When you’re selecting new software, it’s a good idea to designate who on your project team will lead the effort. This person may not be the final decision-maker, but he or she will be responsible for establishing the process for software evaluation and for collecting testing data. Members of this team could include project managers, quality assurance specialists, or sales reps. He or she will also solicit input for defining goals and will present the findings along with a recommendation.

Identify which problems you’re aiming to solve

Before any software evaluation steps begin, you need to determine what existing issues you’re looking to solve or what processes you’re seeking to streamline or automate.

Also, decide what your goals are for this new software. Do you need protection from a cybersecurity attack? Are you looking to reduce the time it takes to process your payroll? You need to know your goals in order to find the right software to achieve them.

Identify what users need to accomplish

Once you know the problems you want to solve, it’s time to talk with your team members who will be using the software. Create a list of requirements for the software and make sure you clearly distinguish between needs and wants in a prioritized list, as it will come into play when making the final decision.

Also, consider integration capabilities and whether or not your top picks will work with your current platforms and workflows. This new technology won’t be used in a vacuum and even the best options available won’t stand up if they don’t fit with your current processes.

Related: 13 Digital Tools Every New Business Needs

Research and create a list of possible solutions

Find out what technology solutions are available to solve your existing problems or provide opportunities for improvement. Consider targeted solutions that focus on a particular problem or process, as well as all-in-one types of technology that will solve for not only the target problem but will also improve other processes or boost automation. Identify the pros and cons, especially focusing on integration capabilities and the flexibility of the software to scale with you as your company grows. Also, be sure to look at training and customer support options.

Narrow your options

In some cases, you may find several solutions that meet your needs. If that’s the case, you need to select a manageable number to investigate. Narrow down to five or fewer top picks based on the functionality and the fit, making sure that the chosen options meet the software evaluation requirements you’ve just prioritized.

Take a look at software reviews from current users and see what types of functionality they highlight as well as their overall experience. Is the feedback consistent among users? Do the reviews vary by user type?

This may tell you something useful. Consider both functionality and cost in your analysis and factor in up-front and future costs. For example, if the pricing is based on the number of users, you’ll want to consider this additional cost as your company grows.

Designate your testers

Select a couple of people on your team to go through a software evaluation trial to fully experiment with the software. A demo is fine to start narrowing down options, but a trial is best for thorough testing and will provide more time to explore.

Supply each user with a form to help them map what they liked, didn’t like, what functionality is missing, and whether they would anticipate adopting the software if it was purchased. Ask them to consider how user-friendly the tool is and the effectiveness of the help options available. Make sure they replicate the same task with each of the options you’ve narrowed down to make sure they have a true apples-to-apples software evaluation comparison as the basis for their feedback.

Sign Up: Receive the StartupNation newsletter!

Collect the feedback

Once your evaluation team has completed all of their software evaluation trials, collate the information and identify the best options. It’s helpful to create a grid with the top priorities and the aggregated feedback collected for each, as well as some comments with overall opinions.

Evaluate the options and make your decision

With the feedback grid and comments from the testers in hand, make a final decision. Whomever you selected to lead the software evaluation process should present his or her recommendation and the basis for their choice based on the collected data.

Early-stage startups typically have limited funds, so it’s especially important to use all resources wisely. Using technology to improve process efficiency through automation is a great way to make wise use of resources and having a methodical approach to evaluating software options will help you make the best decisions for your business.

StartupNation exclusive discounts and savings on Dell products and accessories: Learn more here

Evaluating software solutions is a crucial step for any business looking to optimize its operations and stay ahead of the competition. It involves a comprehensive assessment of various factors, such as functionality, ease of use, scalability, security, and cost-effectiveness. By taking the time to evaluate software solutions before making a purchase, businesses can ensure they are investing in the right tools to achieve their goals and improve their bottom line.

To start the software evaluation process, businesses should define their requirements and goals, gather input from stakeholders and an evaluation team, and identify potential vendors. It’s essential to test the software thoroughly to ensure it meets all the necessary criteria, such as compatibility with existing systems, user-friendliness, and the ability to integrate with other tools.

In order to effectively evaluate software solutions, it’s also important to consider the vendor’s reputation, customer support, and the availability of training and resources. A vendor with a track record of excellent customer service and support can be a valuable asset for businesses, particularly during the implementation phase.

Moreover, businesses should factor in the total cost of ownership, including licensing fees, maintenance costs, and upgrade expenses, to ensure they stay within their budget. It’s also crucial to consider the software’s scalability, particularly for rapidly growing businesses that need tools that can accommodate their changing needs.

In today’s fast-paced business environment, staying ahead of the competition requires leveraging the latest technology and software solutions. The evaluation of software solutions is an important step in this process, and businesses that invest the time and resources to do so can reap significant benefits. By selecting the right software, businesses can streamline their operations, increase productivity, and ultimately drive growth and profitability.

Leave a Reply
Related Posts
Read More

4 Steps in Crafting an Online Review Management Strategy

How often do you check the online reviews for a restaurant you might visit or a website you’re considering buying from? Online reviews are essential social proof for a business’s quality and credibility. So how...
computer and laptop and calculator on desk in stock image Image from Unsplash
Read More

How to Boost Sales with Customer Segmentation Analysis

Boosting sales and fostering long-term relationships with your customer base is the goal of most businesses. Great products and customer service help. But how well do you actually know your target customers and what they...