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Software Selection Overview

Selecting the right software for your business or company could be one of the most important decisions you make. You can read some rather complex guides to software selection. Some provide a massive 52 steps to choosing a software program. The truth is that it shouldn’t be that complex.

Ultimately, you need software that does what you need it to do. Either you use a program that other individuals and companies do or the program provides a mechanism for you to export the file to another format. This might sound simplistic, but it gets the job done.

Your planning phase for this doesn’t have to take long. Companies tend to make these processes too complex. If you run a small business and need a new word processing program, you can simply select the most popular program knowing that most people know how to use it and that most of your vendors and contractors will also use it. Larger companies increase the complexity of their choices, but do they really need to?

Getting stakeholders to agree on objectives creates a problem in 19.6% of situations. This speaks to a much too complicated process. Larger organizations do need to conduct a cost/benefit analysis before purchasing. A major university going from a legacy personnel system to a modern software needs to conduct a needs analysis.

There’s a huge difference. Software selections for small and mid-sized businesses differ from those for large businesses. The software selection process comes into play when you need to choose enterprise software. For the latter, follow these ten steps.

1. Conduct an analysis of your business to determine your needs and the direction in which future needs point. Note what your current software does and add to that list the things you need the new program to do.

2. Determine which vendors in the industry provide these software programs. You need to establish a good working relationship with each vendor you use, so you know they understand your needs. Give your software requirements to each vendor in the written form. You should only use vendors familiar with your industry.

3. Check each software to determine if it meets your business requirements. Those that do go on your shortlist. Those that exceed your needs get prioritized. Automatically drop software that does not meet all the hard and fast requirements you set in step one.

4. Make sure the software is easy to use. Ideally, since you look at industry-standard programs, your personnel will already know how to use them. They need a user-friendly GUI. The more complex the software, the more likely you have to spend money on training costs. If the typical employee could open the program and effectively use it with a training program, you probably have a winner. No general office software should be so complex that it requires training. Of course, general office software differs from specialty software. No one should expect employees to sit down at a computer and know how to use CAD or GIS software without training.

6. The Software should come growth ready. You need it to do more than you need, and you need it to scale quickly and efficiently. When you can add licenses and grow into the program, you have a winner.

7. How the vendor handles updates affects you. Do they send a demo? Are emails provided with guides to the changes? You need to know how this affects you. What happens when you need something changed? Does the vendor charge if you need to add to the software or use a plug-in they designed? Always go through a local demo phase before going live.

8. Flexible deployment software provides the best choice. You need software that works effectively in remote workspaces. The greater the flexibility of use, the more likely the company to grow with your needs.

9. It may seem odd to place a cost-benefit analysis at the near end of the list, but you only need to conduct this for the software you plan to purchase. You hone it down to one from many. At step nine, you know what you want to buy, and you need to know that it really makes the best choice. Think of this as your double-check.

10. Examine and evaluate your budget. Check the vendor’s history to ensure they typically deliver on or under budget. They also need a reputation for delivering quality consistently.

Now, you have selected your software. No need for 52 or more steps!

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