Purchasing new software is always a major decision. When you are spending so much money on a new tool that will likely be widely used within your organization, it is important to fully evaluate the software before purchasing it to ensure it will work for your company’s needs and deliver a positive return on investment. In a formal software evaluation, you’ll consider both the software’s objective features, like its ability to integrate with your current systems, alongside more subjective factors, like whether you find the interface easy to use. By completing a software evaluation, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision about your investment. Here’s what to consider when evaluating software and how each element can benefit your business.
Source Code Quality
Good source code ensures that your software is safe, secure, and reliable. While code quality can be subjective, a good source code is generally one that follows a consistent style, is easy to understand, has been documented, and can be tested. To determine whether the quality of the code is high enough for your needs, use statistical analysis tools to evaluate the software’s reliability, or likelihood of running without failure for an extended period of time. You should also check that the code is easy to maintain, test, and integrate with other software. Keep an eye out for high numbers of defect reports or long defect identification times, which can demonstrate lower quality source code.
Usability, User Interface, and Documentation
A usable software program is one that is easy to learn and operate on a day to day basis, saving end users time and stress. This can be a highly subjective process and varies from person to person, but there are some key features you can look at to gauge usability, such as user interface and documentation. If an interface is intuitive, users will naturally gravitate toward the appropriate buttons and sections to complete tasks because these areas are clearly labeled. If they need help, clear documentation can quickly solve usability issues, allowing users to complete their work instead of spending time searching for answers.
All businesses deal with sensitive information from customers and employees alike, making security an important feature of any software. Testing the security of your software helps you protect this data and avoid a serious and expensive breach. When evaluating security, consider the software’s encryption methods and the ease with which someone might be able to gain unwanted access to it.
A high-performing software program is one that has little unplanned downtime and can handle high volumes without causing strain on the system. When software is slow to load or completely unavailable, it can be difficult for employees to complete their work on time. High-performing software solves this issue thanks to its reliability and capacity for handling large amounts of information. Ask about the software’s scheduled and unscheduled downtime over the past year, if such data is available, to get a sense of its performance.
Business logic refers to the part of a software program that determines how data can be created, stored, and changed. For example, business logic determines the sequence of events that occurs when a customer adds an item to their online shopping cart, enters their payment and shipping information, and completes the purchase. Sound business logic ensures consistency and allows you to control how much information users can modify and view. This can be a helpful organizational tool and also helps maintain standard procedures across the company.
Software architecture is the basic structure of your system. It consists of various software elements, their interactions, and the properties related to each. For example, if you need your software to be fast, the program will be structured to support that need. Strong architecture will allow you to complete all necessary tasks and upgrade the system to accommodate new needs at a future date. Instead of rebuilding the software or purchasing entirely new systems, logical architecture allows you to make modifications as necessary.
Data is generally considered to be of high quality if it correctly represents real-world information and can be used to make educated decisions. Data should also be consistent, particularly when it pertains to large amounts of information. The data within your software system should follow similar guidelines to be considered high quality. Ask about how the software stores, collects, organizes, and interprets data to be sure it will meet the organization’s needs.
Finally, be sure to evaluate the interoperability of your new software, or its ability to function across different devices or in conjunction with different software systems. This allows you to use the software with your existing infrastructure instead of purchasing new equipment, helping you save money and time by beginning to use the software as quickly as possible to reach your business goals.
Working with an IT Consultant
Testing and evaluating software can be a long, arduous process. By working with an IT strategy consultant at Hartman Executive Advisors, you can navigate the process more easily and have an independent, expert opinion guide you in the right direction for your organization. Hartman works with executives at middle-market companies on a variety of IT business processes to help them succeed in an era where business and technology are intertwined as never before. Contact Hartman for more information about software evaluation and IT consulting services.