Best Practices for Selecting Software

Getting the Most Out of Software as a Service

Many software providers boast having configurable software, how do you identify the program that will work best for your team?

Many software as a service (saas) providers advertise their product as customizable to some extent. Often a potential buyer must evaluate products on a spectrum from custom to configurable. Custom software is built specifically for the client’s needs and workflow which means it fits exactly the specifications asked for out of the box, but is often costly to update. Configurable software is often built with more flexibility; so while the base system is the same for all clients you can continue to make changes to and update a flow to manage changing expectations and industry norms. 

More and more companies are beginning to recognize that configurable software is the path of the future; but once you’ve decided to search for a configurable software solution how do you know which one is right for you? Below are our top tips to get the most out of your configurable software solutions:

Look for a software partner.

When you’re evaluating multiple software service providers at the same time, look for signs to tell you whether a company is purely positioning itself as a vendor or whether they’re excited about the partnership that comes from doing business together. A good software partner is going to listen to your needs and the needs of all its clients to make sure they’re always one step ahead of the game. Where a service provider might view their product roadmap as static, a software partner is always looking for ways to improve the product to address changing needs. Especially when you’re addressing workplace safety and compliance you want to make sure your software solutions are always pushing and adapting to industry standards, not being left behind.

Keep implementation in mind.

A great checklist item to return to regularly as you consider a configurable software solution is to think about how a service will integrate with your organization. Do your employees regularly sign into your system? Maybe look for a software service that provides single sign-on (SSO) so your team members can use the username and login they already have for your system. 

Implementation details like this may seem insignificant when buried on a list of features but could save you lots of time juggling various usernames and passwords in the future. Are there other ways your dream product might integrate with another service you already have? A good software service will offer configurations that integrate with your existing process so you don’t end up needing to train experts on a whole suite of disparate systems.

Think about training and ramp up. 

No one knows your team better than you, so you know better than anyone what sort of changes will slow down training and adoption of a new product. Keep your current process in mind as you look for a replacement. Many employers seeking new, more configurable software are focused on the limitations of their current process but haven’t thought about the ways in which their current system works great. 

A good configurable software suite will be able to save the best aspects of your current process while bridging the gaps in that process as well. What terms are familiar to your safety officer conducting inspections in the field? Be sure to ask a new software provider whether their default question answers can be renamed so you’re training your team members to look for the terms they’re already familiar with rather than training them on a new system AND a new set of terminology all at once. Knowing what works well for your team and maintaining those benefits in a transition is just as important as solving the problems you’re currently facing.

Be forward focused. 

By now, you probably have a good idea of which products solve the problem you’re trying to solve today, but improving team performance is rarely about solving a problem in isolation. You want to also ask yourself how a service can solve other problems in your organization. Maybe today you’re looking for a service that can generate confined space work permits, but does your company have other permitting needs? What are they doing to track OSHA and other industry compliance issues? 

Think of tackling your current problem as a test flight, the true question is how will this service grow as your needs do as well. It might make sense to ask what’s on their roadmap, what are the next big problems this potential partner is taking on? A good software partner will keep you on the cutting edge for years to come as these service evaluations are time consuming and costly, you don’t want to be doing another one a year from now.