What is Software Evaluation?

Software must be evaluated before purchasing

The growth of the internet, greater computing power, and high levels of competition have all made it imperative for enterprises to be nimble and agile. This is all the more true when adopting new software for increasing business efficiencies, providing better customer service, or adapting to emerging technologies. 

That’s why the software evaluation process is critical for enterprises to ensure they stay ahead of the curve and pick the correct software that will serve their business needs for the foreseeable future. Let’s take an in-depth look at software evaluation to understand how and why it is a vital step for any enterprise planning to adopt new software.

What is software evaluation?

Software evaluation is the process of assessing the ability of software to understand whether it meets your business needs while serving its intended purpose. It evaluates the usability of individual software products by identifying their technical capabilities. Usually, enterprises looking for new software should use a comparative approach as part of a comprehensive evaluation of different software packages or tools. The end goal of the software evaluation process is to select the best software package or tool that suits the needs of the enterprise.

When is software evaluation necessary?

Software evaluation is necessary when an enterprise needs to make informed decisions about which software applications they should invest their time and money in. For example, an enterprise may be looking to improve its customer service process and is considering buying a new customer relationship management (CRM) software to address its customer needs better and improve its customer retention ratio. In such a scenario, the company should consider running various CRM software through a standardized and formal evaluation process to assess which one best fits their needs and has the potential to return a positive return on investment.

If you’re considering a formal software evaluation process, it is vital to conduct the evaluation objectively and subjectively. An example of evaluating software objectively is to assess how well it integrates with your current software systems. On the other hand, one of the parameters of evaluating a software subjectively is to determine whether or not the users of the new software will find the user interface intuitive and simple to use.

What are the benefits of software evaluation? 

Some of the benefits of a formalized software evaluation process include:

1) Greater security

Enterprises deal with sensitive customer and employee information. Any new software you are evaluating should have top-notch security features helping you protect critical data and prevent an expensive and severe breach. By comparing the various security features offered by different software packages, you’ll be able to decide which one will provide you with greater security and, as a result, better peace of mind.

2) Better performance levels

High-performing software can usually handle high volumes of data and transactions without strain on the system or the company infrastructure. Following a formal software evaluation process will help you to compare the performance levels of different software packages to assess which one best suits your organization.

3) Appropriate usability, documentation, and user interface

A software evaluation process will help you select a software package that you and your users can operate efficiently. Look at aspects such as documentation and user interface, and then decide which software package is appropriate for your enterprise based on these parameters.

What are the different types of software evaluation?

There are different ways to evaluate software packages before purchasing one for your business. Some of these include:

a) Reading reviews

The first way to conduct a  software comparison is to read reviews that other users wrote. By doing so, you’ll get holistic feedback from other existing users of the software. In all likelihood, they will share what they specifically like or don’t like about the software. Going through reviews will help the decision-makers of your company to get a clear picture of how specific software will perform in a real-life scenario. 

b) Carrying out hands-on testing

Carrying out hands-on testing involves setting up a group of test users who will use the software product over time to see how it works and how well it fits the needs of your business. You can either sign up for a trial version of the software or ask the vendor to give you a demo version to test out for a certain period. Ensure that your group of test users spends enough time using the software and runs through a previously prepared set of test cases to put the software through its paces. 

c) Running compatibility checks

Running compatibility checks is an essential type of software evaluation as you will get to know whether a new software package is compatible with your existing hardware, infrastructure, operating systems, and other software packages. 

Example of a typical use-case scenario

To illustrate the software evaluation process you should follow, let’s look at a typical use-case scenario:

Imagine that your enterprise is thinking about purchasing an expensive software package to assist your developers during software development. The first stage is to get knowledgeable experts to establish the evaluation criteria and then whittle the various potential software packages down to a handful. The next step is to get a trial or demo version of the software to run a proof of concept (POC) project and proceed.

You should identify individuals with the appropriate qualifications to lead the implementation and assess the software’s potential value to your company. Get representatives of different departments, such as developers, administrators, release managers, enterprise security, etc.

Before the POC or testing stage starts, it is vital for you to document the scope and criterion for success. Consider detailing any current pain points that the new software is meant to address. Also, identify any must-haves and good-to-haves that the team should know about.

You should ensure that a reasonable testing period is set with deadlines. The testing team should have sufficient time to test the software without the process hampering their day-to-day work.

After the testing period ends, the testing team should prepare a report about the evaluation process. Such a report should have a qualification or score to help the team draw their conclusion and make a recommendation. Such a report should have a section on financials covering any licensing and support costs. 

The final step is for the decision-makers in the enterprise to draw their conclusions on how apt a particular software will be for the entire organization. Depending upon the results of this step, the company can go ahead and proceed to the software purchase stage.

In Summary

Purchasing a new software by an enterprise involves a substantial financial investment and considerable time and effort that users across the organization will spend. In such a scenario, an enterprise needs to consider following a formal software evaluation process. By doing so, you can ensure that your organization selects appropriate software products that meet the business’s needs in terms of budget, technical capability, and operational compatibility. 

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.