How to Evaluate Enterprise Software
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Posted by: Nathan Cooper
As a System Administrator, one of my primary responsibilities is to evaluate and manage the tools and systems our employees use.
As our company continues to grow at lightning speed, our teams are constantly reevaluating our software to ensure that first, it supports our employees in completing their work efficiently and, second, it provides options for our IT team to easily manage and scale these solutions as needed.
If you’re deciding between different software, tools, and systems at your own organization, consider these questions that we use to evaluate enterprise software at Lucid.
1. Does this solution help my employees do their jobs better and faster?
The first question is, of course, whether employees will actually use and benefit from the solution you’re considering. If the solution won’t positively affect your employees’ work and push your company closer to its goals, why go through the effort? On top of that, you have to think about the solution’s learning curve—if the barrier to entry is too great, employees will almost certainly resist using the software.
Going a bit deeper, when the Lucid IT department evaluates software, we always ask these questions:
- Is this solution essential to the work our employees are doing or does it solve an important pain point?
- Will this solution increase productivity, foster collaboration, and improve communication across my organization?
- Is this a best of breed (B.O.B.) solution? Or, in other words, is this solution the best option available in its category or use case?
- Is this tool intuitive and easy to use?
- How much onboarding and training will be required for employees to start using the software or tool? Does the vendor provide any training or support materials?
2. How is data being stored and shared?
Ask any IT admin about their top concerns, and I’m sure you’ll hear this term come up frequently: data sprawl. IT departments have to manage and control software where employees could store and share information to make sure that any proprietary information and data remains safe and secure.
At Lucid, we ask the following questions:
- Do your employees create documents with potentially sensitive information? Do you know where employees are saving and sharing documents both within and outside of your organization?
- Will we be able to comply with industry regulations after implementing this solution?
- How should we approach version control and ensure that employees work off of the latest documentation?
3. Can we simplify the process by which employees access software?
If you get to this point, where you’ve decided that the enterprise solution will be beneficial for employees and allow the IT department to manage users and documentation, you should take into consideration the process for giving employees access to this tool or system.
For example, you should ask yourselves:
- Does the solution integrate with existing systems we already use? Can employees log in using SSO with our identity solution?
- What is the process of provisioning and de-provisioning users on this new tool? How would we manage who is using it? Can we automatically remove access when it is no longer needed?
4. Can we justify the cost of this solution?
IT admins have to adhere to strict budgets, so we have to weigh the cost of the solution (not just for the software itself, but the cost of implementation, training, and ongoing support) versus the potential benefits.
We also want to make sure the solution would continue to meet our needs for the foreseeable future so we can actually see an impact from the solution and a return on the investment of purchasing, training, and implementation. These questions help guide our decision:
- Will we be able to use this solution long-term? Will it grow and scale with our company?
- How can we measure the ROI from this solution? What returns have other companies (similar to ours in size, industry, etc.) seen from using this solution?
- What are the potential costs if we don’t use this solution and continue at status quo? What impact might a free or lesser alternative have to our organization?
- How can we make sure that we maximize our investment (e.g., how can we provision licenses thoughtfully, how do we train employees on the tool and increase usage, are there additional use cases other than our initial reason for buying the tool, etc.)?
With these questions in mind, our IT and procurement departments at Lucid have been able to choose software solutions that empower our ever-growing group of employees, help us maintain compliance, and contribute to our larger security initiatives.
About the author
Nathan has been working to protect Lucid and Lucid's customers since he joined the team in 2015. He obtained his Masters of Information Systems Management from Brigham Young University, and is a current Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).
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