If you’re trying to streamline or automate processes in your company, new software can seem like the answer to all your troubles. But selecting software that works for your entire team (or an entire organization) and your budget can be daunting.
In addition to finding software that can essentially be “all things to all people,” you also have to think about how this software can adapt as your company grows and changes. Further complicating the process, with some software there are inevitable trade offs. For instance, perhaps the software looks great and is super user friendly, but functionality in integrating with existing systems or producing the data you need may be limited.
To avoid these potentially expensive and time-consuming pitfalls, consider what other software buyers prioritize before and after their software purchase.
In a recent study conducted by TrustRadius, a review site for business technology that serves both buyers and vendors, software buyers shared the top factors that influenced their decision-making for new software before purchasing compared to their top priorities once the software was up and running in their businesses. Read on for key lessons learned from buyers that can help you to select software that meets your needs long term.
Adaptability and Scalability Topped the List Post-Purchase
When buyers were surveyed before purchasing software, they listed the following as their top three priorities: 1) shows measurable results; 2) can adapt to fit your processes; and 3) will be adopted quickly. However, as you can see from the graph, post-purchase buyers were most concerned with adaptability and scalability.
Why the change? The TrustRadius study posits that in the purchasing stage, you’re hyper-focused on getting a positive return-on-investment (ROI), hence the prioritization of measurable results. Ultimately though, your ROI comes from a product that not only increases efficiencies, but that works across the various facets of your organization–people, departments, projects, and existing systems–decreasing your need for ancillary software purchases down the line and ensuring widespread adoption by the entire company.
How Do You Accurately Measure Scalability and Adaptability?
Short of having a crystal ball, how are you supposed to predict how your company’s software needs will change six months from now, let alone three years? The TrustRadius study recommends asking the vendor for a custom demo or trial. You can ask the vendor to react to a real-world scenario, for instance maybe your company is about to embark on a $1 billion fundraising campaign and needs software that will serve a CRM function and easily work with existing financial systems. Your custom demo will give you an idea of whether or not the software is flexible enough to meet your needs.
For a trial, you would bring your actual data into a sandbox environment, which can be time-consuming, but will allow you to test the workability of the system and identify course-corrections you need to make to your existing processes to get the maximum value out of the new software.
Another good strategy for determining the scalability and adaptability of software is to talk to clients who use the software already and are similar in size and scope to your organization. Building on the fundraising example provided above, a national organization with chapters throughout the country like the American Red Cross, may want to speak to the Muscular Dystrophy Association or Big Brothers Big Sisters, to learn about any challenges they faced with implementation of the software and how their usage has changed as the organization has grown?
Finally, if you can’t find a peer organization that is using the software you are considering, you can always check out TrustRadius for a treasure trove of reviews and product comparisons that will help you to better understand the end-user experience. You can even search reviews by terms like “scale” or “scaleable” and filter by company size to find reviews that discuss your specific concerns.
Danielle Hegedus is an Atlanta based writer. She is a regular contributor to TrustRadius, where she shares her knowledge of the latest trends in B2B news and software.