What is a software comparison?

Software comparison is a must=have

If you are an enterprise looking to implement a new software solution for your business, then it may seem to be a very challenging task considering the wide variety of software solutions out there. The software you are looking for could be ERP, CRM, project management, helpdesk, or any other type of software solution that is vital for your business in this digital age. 

Regardless of the kind of software solution, you need to make the best possible decision when selecting the software to ensure that you get a positive ROI and meet your company’s needs. That’s where software comparison can prove to be invaluable in making a decision. Let’s look at what software comparison is and assess how it can help when it comes to selecting new software. 

What is software comparison? 

Software comparison is the process of comparing one or more software products to see how their functionality, capabilities, user interface, overall usability, and user experience stack up when compared with one another. It consists of using quantitative data (like attribute ratings and features) along with qualitative insights (like performance, usability, and support) to decide which new software to purchase for your enterprise.

How does a comparison differ from an evaluation?

While software comparison and software evaluation can be considered to be essential components of the process used by an enterprise to decide on implementing new software solutions, there are subtle differences.

Software comparison is doing a head-to-head comparison of similar software solutions to assess the suitability of one particular software product over another when it comes to meeting an enterprise’s needs. On the other hand, software evaluation is doing a deep dive into individual software solutions (in most cases, more than one software solution) to see how well the software product can fulfill the particular requirements of an enterprise.

Software evaluation can be considered a subset of software comparison, wherein different software products are evaluated by a team from various departments in the organization. The output of the software evaluation process helps decision makers carry out a comparison of the different software being evaluated and eventually make an informed decision about which software solution the enterprise should purchase.

When is software comparison necessary?

Software comparison is necessary when, as an enterprise, you have to consider the various quantitative and qualitative features of new software to assess how well it will meet your needs. You need to conduct a  software comparison to assess the suitability of various software packages available on the market. 

As an example, your enterprise may be thinking of purchasing new software for project management. A quick look on the internet will throw up as many as 600+ different tools for project management. How do you go about and pick one knowing that a wrong decision by you may adversely hurt company operations? Not only that, but a wrong decision may also adversely affect your standing in the business and have other negative repercussions on your career.

The logical way to proceed and mitigate the risk of selecting a new software solution for an enterprise is to conduct a thorough software comparison and software evaluation process to ensure that you have all the necessary insights and data points to select an appropriate software solution for the enterprise.

What are the benefits of software comparison? 

There are substantial benefits of carrying out a thorough process of software comparison before deciding which software package to buy for your enterprise. A few of these are:

  1. Being able to do a like-for-like comparison of different software packages to assess their suitability for the needs of your organization.
  2. Be able to test specific features of different packages against benchmarks that you define before you carry out the comparison process.
  3. Be able to reach a data-driven decision about which software product is suitable for your business.
  4. Mitigate risk when it comes to ensuring that a new software purchase gives you a positive ROI in the long term.

The dangers of not doing a software comparison

The selection of new software that will be used by an enterprise can be a risky affair. Many organizations may publish an RFI (Request for Information), asking various vendors to submit details of their software solutions for the business to select from. However, it is vital for decision-makers in the business to compare the various solutions on their own rather than take the vendor submissions at face value. After all, the priority of all vendors will be to sell their software to you. They are highly unlikely to highlight any weak areas that may be there in their software.

If you don’t follow a well-defined software comparison process before purchasing software, you may face the following problems:

  1. End up with a software solution that does not meet the needs of the enterprise.
  2. End up paying either a higher upfront cost or a higher maintenance cost for a particular software as opposed to a different software solution that performs similarly but is more economical.
  3. Pay heavily by focusing on features of software solutions rather than benefits it can bring to the company. Some benefits to look out for are reduced cost, more significant revenue, higher usability, etc.
  4. Select the wrong technology stack by selecting a software solution that does not complement your company’s infrastructure

Example of a typical use-case

Let us take an example of an enterprise looking to implement a new ERP. You should follow the following steps in the comparison process:

a) Identify the software tier

The first step is to ensure that the software solutions that you will evaluate are directly comparable. There’s no point comparing accounting software to ERP software. It is hence vital for you to understand the various software tiers and software solutions available in the market.

b) Understand the deployment method

Will the new software be deployed in the cloud, or will you need to look at an on-premise or a hybrid deployment scenario? Initial and ongoing costs are directly dependent on the deployment model that you’ll be adopting.

c) Enumerate the cost:

When comparing different software solutions, you need to list the initial and recurring costs that the business will incur both in the short and the long term. Keep in mind that lower initial costs may seem very attractive but may end up biting you in the back a few months or years later.

d) Understand the customizability

When it comes to new software, how customizable it is an essential factor for you to keep in mind when making a decision. Most enterprise software has pre-defined modules that should meet your company’s immediate needs. However, when it comes to the long term, you or your IT team should be able to customize the software to ensure that any necessary modifications to be made can be done smoothly.

e) Select members of your team

The next step in the comparison process is to select the members of your team who’ll be responsible for the comparison. You should select representatives of various departments in your organization.

f) Prepare a comparison test plan

You should create a comparison test plan that will compare the different software solutions against known benchmarks. You should also be able to compare new/proposed software solutions against specific features that existing software has.

g) Carry out the comparison and make a recommendation

Your team should put the different software through its paces, collate the results of the test and after the comparison, give the decision makers their considered opinion about which software to purchase.

h) Make a decision

The final step is to decide on which software to buy based on the data points your team has collected. At times you may have to be personally involved in the decision because, ultimately, you’ll be held responsible for both the success or potential failure of the software purchase decision.

Conclusion

Shortlisting and buying new software for an enterprise can be a nightmare if not planned properly. That’s why following a formal software comparison process is an absolute necessity for any company planning to buy new software.

If you are making a major software purchase decision, then it’s important to rely on an honest third-party evaluation based on the right combination of user evaluation, testing and professional analysis. Now is a good time to contact TopSoft and find out how we can help you make the right choice.