Why You Need to Interview Your Business Software Like an EmployeeSoftware Development | 0 comments | by Erin Quilliam
We believe that you should examine your potential new business software in the same way you would interview a new employee.
We’re not just saying this to make a metaphor. Thoroughly examining software solutions involves a process akin to interviewing. It will help you assess and find the right solution for your business.
Buying or developing a new software solution represents as much of an investment to your company as hiring a new employee, or even a team. It acts like another team member, enabling your human employees to carry out their own work.
With this in mind, we believe it is a good idea to approach investigating a new software solution in a similar way to how you would approach a new employee.
However, holding an “interview” will be even more helpful. It will force you to clarify your business requirements and aspirations in relation to the software. As such, you’ll be in the best position of deciding between buying or developing a solution.
So, what would a software job interview look like?
How to Host an Interview with your new Business Software Solution.
You should “interview” your next software solution to find out if it will be the best product for the job. Below are the three key questions to consider in order to determine if a solution is right for your business.
Two of these questions are widely considered two of the three most important interview questions for human employees. The same questions – or at least what they assess – are just as important when evaluating if a software solution is going to work well within your company.
Depending on the business you run, and the requirements you have for the software, you should tack on more questions to these as appropriate.
The three key questions you should ask are as follows.
1. Do you (the software) have the right skills for the job?
This is especially important to think about if you’re considering purchasing commercial software. Commercial products are made for a mass market and designed to be used in a broad range of industries.
That means that your commercial software might have a long CV full of great skills and experience being used in other companies. But that doesn’t always make it the best candidate for the job.
With commercial software, you’re paying for the privilege of having all of those features and functions. Yet you might only use a handful of them. You may well find that half the package is redundant because you never need to use it, yet, you still have to pay for it.
On the other hand, you might find a single commercial software can offer you some of the features you need, but not all. In that scenario, you might need to “hire” another software package to fill in the gaps.
Alternatively, you could hire a developer to increase the functionality and features of the product. A little like investing in some extra training for your employee. (Bear in mind, customising commercial software isn’t always possible.)
Meanwhile, bespoke software will obviously lack any relevant experience in other companies. This doesn’t make your software an entry-level employee, though. The beauty of bespoke software is that it is designed and developed to a client’s specific requirements and goals.
So it might not have experience in the field, but it is literally made to fit your business and be the most efficient solution for whatever process and problems you face.
Lack of experience and prior users isn’t an issue though. Bespoke solutions are usually prototyped and always rigorously tested before use. This means even with this brand-new software, there is a proven track record of its performance. Albeit a limited one.
2. Is the new software a good fit within your team?
As you would consider if a new employee is a good cultural fit for a workplace, so too must you consider if the software is a good fit.
If an employee doesn’t share your values or fit in with the culture, generally, they will leave the workforce. Whilst a software can’t hand in a resignation, it can make the working life of your employees hellish.
So, it makes sense to consider how the software’s own work processes match your workforce’s.
Commercial software might be able to carry out the work you want to, but the method is strict and might not match your own work process. Because the software is already built, there’s little you can do except compromise and adapt how you work in order to use the software. This means changing the habits of your team, and how you carry out your work. Not really ideal.
Bespoke software solutions fit into your business without interruption or the need to change how you work because the product is designed to exactly fit your requirements. It can even be created to follow an existing method of working – or mimic an existing system you use but need to replace.
This then means you need to spend less time training your employees on how to work with the new software. Like a good employee, the solution should bring something new to your team but fit in without compromise or conflict.
You should find a software solution which makes a good cultural fit, as it will grow your business and grow with it.
Over time, your software should grow with your business in order to scale with your progress, move with the changing market, or evolve alongside changes in your work process.
Commercial software could last you years without issue, but over time might struggle to cope with change. It also may not be able to keep up with advances in work practices or even developments in technology.
In that sense, it can be like an employee who is now suited for another role, or company. Yet whilst an employee can leave your company, you’re stuck with your software until you decide you need to upgrade or replace it.
Commercial software can be easy to outgrow because you have little to no control over the updates. Which means if you need to make changes, you’re left to try and contact the original vendor, or have to hire an external developer to try and customise the software.
It isn’t just about features though. Outgrowing your software can be as easy as your business evolving and expanding, and the software is incapable of handling the higher demands. This fate can befall both commercial and bespoke software. In these instances, it might be best to let your software employee go, and hire a new one that will better suit your business.
However, with bespoke software, it is possible to grow and change the software. You have the source code and own the product, so you can adapt it however you need to. Which means you don’t have to fire it and hire a new solution just yet.
Bespoke software is far more adaptable than commercial software. As it is custom-built (and you own the rights,) it is far easier to upgrade and adapt.
Any developer should be able to make changes to your software for you. Plus, as with the original build, these changes should meet your exact requirements.
Bespoke software – like a great employee – will evolve with your business and provide continuing value.
3. Will it be a good investment for your company?
Some software is worth more than others, literally and figuratively. Which makes it important to understand the costs associated with taking on a software solution, as well as the reward.
Bespoke software has a high initial cost. But because you receive the IP rights you can avoid ongoing costs associated with most commercial software. For example, you won’t pay license fees and costs for additional users. It will take longer to develop and implement, but once it is up and running it is completely yours. Any changes made to these solutions are entirely at your discretion.
With commercial software, you pay less to get started. However, you will need to consider ongoing costs. Commercial products are also quicker to install. However, the trade-off is that there’s no guarantee on the longevity of the product and its features.
Additionally, you will need to take time to train your staff on how to use any new software solution. The only difference here is that bespoke software can be built to mimic an existing process or follow a pattern you define. This creates greater ease of use and will enable your employees or users to get to grips with the product far quicker.
How Would You Know What Software Solution Best Suits You?
To know what kind of software will best suit you, you need to weigh up the pros and cons of each. You have a choice of buying a commercial product, developing a bespoke solution, or creating a hybrid solution.
This article has weighed up commercial and bespoke, and you should do the same. Consider the short-term benefits, such as initial cost, alongside the long-term, such as the adaptability.
Holding a software interview as above will help too. It will help you to clarify what each solution can offer you and force you to consider how well it will work within your team, and for how long.
If you want to read an article which breaks down the various factors to consider when investing in new software, we suggest reading this article.
Whichever kind of software solution you choose to use, it represents a significant investment for your business.
Hopefully, whether you use commercial or bespoke software, you find a solution that meets your needs. Whether that is to increase productivity, connect with customers, or enable new methods of working.
Whether you require IT support and consultancy to manage your commercial solution, or require software development services to build your own system, IT Enterprise can help.
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