10 Criteria for Selecting Business Software

Posted on Oct 09, 2012

IT Support, IT Department, Business software, FedSolutions

Selecting the right software for your organization can be a challenging task. Whether you are an IT Department or an IT Service Provider assigned with the responsibility of identifying and evaluating a new business software, you can quickly become overwhelmed by the selection process. In general, companies pursue technology as a process to achieve one or more of the following goals:  1) increase productivity, 2) address operational challenges or 3) save money.   Not having a proper strategy in place for selecting the right business software for your organization can significantly hamper your efforts in achieving these goals.  Even worse, selecting the wrong business application can lead to long-term maintenance costs, absence of use by your users, use (and purchase!) of another software platform to “fill in” functional gaps.

However, finding the right business software for your organization does not have to be complicated. There are best practices that can be (and should be) implemented to facilitate your selection process.  In this featured post, we take a closer look at 10 criteria for selecting the right business software for your organization:

1. What is the need this software application?

The acquisition should be for an actual business need. Example: If you need an integrated tool that would allow a group of up to 30 researchers to gather, authenticate and report their study data.

2. Identify your priorities
It’s important to understand the capabilities of the various products and how they can benefit your organization. For example, if there is a need to install this software in a centralized location, and make it available for study groups, or researchers to use and access data from the field.  It will be pertinent that they are able to export data and input and report data with other tools. There is software out there can offer many different features but do not necessarily provide a complete solution. Prioritizing those needs and implementing the right software for your needs is most critical. Don’t worry about the little things as long as you can fulfill your goals with the end-result you’re looking for.

3. Mission Critical vs. Business Critical
What is the mission? Is it a business critical application? A mission critical use is serious to the operation of your business. If the application flops or is inaccessible for any extent of time, it could be damaging to your business, such as financial software errors. A business critical application is critical for your personnel to perform their obligations and responsibilities. The last thing you need is downtime which can be a brutal blow to your business. It is important to understand when you assess vendor credibility, product dependability and support contributions.

4. Vendor Credibility and Longevity
When doing some background research, it’s important to know the vendor history and credibility. What are their customer dependability and satisfaction ratings? Don’t focus completely on the negative aspect but you will want to protect yourself if the company were to go out of business or if they are a start- up business. Spend the time and check references on the vendor, so you don’t get stuck in the cold if something were to go wrong. A solid warranty is something to look out for and ask about.

5. Software Reliability
Are there any issues with the software going offline or any technical glitches? What is the length of time for issues to be resolved? Does the time slot given to resolve issues fit in line with your activity? Research online forums and even make a call to other customers to get a realistic idea of what you’re really getting yourself into. Speak with previous customers and find out why they abandoned or upgraded to another application. Protecting yourself will only be less heartache for everyone in the future.

6. Operations Integration
How does the application fit in with your current needs? Does is streamline processes and save time? Who will use it? Where? When? How?  Cultivate a plan for implementing the software into your current procedures.   Be precise in regard to who will use the application and how will they use it.  Make sure in defining if the software application abilities will meet your current business need.  For example, if you need employees to contact the application remotely, will this feature be available?

7. Support Model
How well does technical support work if your employees were to encounter an issue? Does the merchant provide phone support or support via email only? What is the average reply-time for answering technical issues? Is there adequate documentation and information available? Are there any hidden fees for extra support?

8. Scalability for Growth
Is the application beneficial as your organization grows? Will there be an increased pricing if your organization does grow? There could be license issues when adding users which usually cost money, so those will be good questions to ask. Pricing can increase easily when using basic versions but when implementing a enterprise solution, you can expect the pricing to increase if you’re implementing the full package.

9. Pricing
Once you have reviewed the pricing and have evaluated the merchant, product competencies and resolved that this is the application, you can look at pricing. Moving forward, the pricing should reflect and support the capabilities, measuring up to the level of support offered. At the end of the day, you get what you pay for, so be wary about start-ups that are providing these solutions, especially without a proven track record.

10. How Will You Measure the ROI?
How will this investment reduce your immediate and long-term costs? Keep in mind, before signing on the dotted line on the contract, figure out how to measure the return on your investment? Will the application or product replace an existing application that is more costly? Will the quality of work improve by a more steadfast system being put in place? Will the quality remain the same or increase product or service provided?

No matter which way you go, make sure to consult with experienced personnel that can guide your organization in the driving seat towards success. Talk with your IT department or IT service provider about options when making these big decisions that will eventually get your organization ahead.

Written by IT Support and IT Consulting Professionals at FedSolutions. Thanks for reading!