Are you an impulse buyer? I’m definitely not – I don’t leap into buying things, big or small. Instead, I do a ton of research first, which means I’ve built up a few tricks to shorten the research process. I now use this process in my business when assessing potential new software.
Next time your business buddies tell you that a New-Fangled-Even-Washes-The-Dishes app is the latest tech you must have in your business, follow these steps to get a better sense of what the app is and whether it will be right for you.
(I’m not knocking recommendations – they’re a fantastic starting point – but it can help to know what you’re getting into before losing time down the rabbit hole of trial and error.)
1. Start on the features page
This might sound obvious, but some websites try to highlight specific features by focusing you on a sales page instead. You want to know everything that the software can to do.
2. Look at the use cases and templates pages
These can be a bit buried but it’s worth digging around for them. They can take your understanding of the software from a theoretical ‘So, what can this do for me?’ to ‘Oh, it can do that for me.’
Do take the templates with a pinch of salt though, because every business is different and they’re presenting the software’s best self.
3. Compare with what you use now
Once you have a sense of the features, start comparing them with any software you already have. That could be other online apps or documents, or even pen and paper systems.
Whatever you use now, it needs to feel like an upgrade if you want to make the change.
4. Find the pricing plans page
Take a look at the features in each pricing plan. Your needs might start at the bottom tier, but see if you can estimate how quickly you would move up as your business grows. Will it continue to be good value for you?
5. Check out the software reviews on other sites
I like to head to capterra.com to read software reviews.
You can check how many stars it gets, but it’s even more useful to dig into the reviews for the pros and cons listed.
There’s a wealth of information in these reviews, from finding out more details about the software, to hearing how good the support really is.
You also want to pay attention to who is leaving those software reviews. If the reviews on a 5-star app are all from big businesses, and their pros are how well it works across a team of 500 people, it’s not going to be very relevant to someone running a microbusiness.
On the other hand, if someone with a microbusiness simply complains about not having enough colours, that might not be enough to put you off.
Have a browse to see what’s relevant and get a good feel for what people with businesses like yours think about it. Capterra also gives reviewers the option to say which software they moved over from, which can be enlightening too.
Use these 5 tips to get a good sense of a piece of software, then get testing.
I actually have one more suggestion though, which is to get a sense of how good the customer support is because that can make or break how you feel about pretty much anything. Head over to my post on 4 Tips To Avoid Exasperating Customer Support for more on that..
Still feeling bamboozled by software? Take a look at how I can help you to choose the right client management systems for you in Level Up Your Client Management.