Five Steps to Pick the Right Software Platform
Wander the halls of any home-care industry conference and you’ll hear the same question repeatedly: “What software are you using?” It seems hardly anyone is happy with their management software and most folks are constantly searching for something better, less expensive or more userfriendly.
Outside of people, software is one of the most impactful and significant investments you’ll make in your business. Software supports and informs process, enables compliance, enhances the patient experience and has implications for your organization’s culture. So, yeah, it’s a big deal.
While choosing software may seem a logic-driven decision, research shows that 90 percent of purchasing decisions are made using emotion and backed up using logic.
In fact, if you listen to the answers people give as to why they don’t like their current software, you hear things like “clunky,” “not user friendly,” “frustrating,” “difficult” and “just not in line with how we work.” Fairly emotional reactions that overrule the logical rationale used to justify the original purchase.
So, most of us end up with some degree of buyer’s remorse after the purchase, wandering around at conferences with that question hanging off our lips.
What can you do to break the cycle? How can you confidently make the right decision once and move on? If you marry emotion and logic in a thoughtfully structured and time-bound process, you’re much more likely to be happy with your chosen software.
- Start with you, not the vendors. One critical mistake software buyers often make is to start the process by talking with the software companies. The logic is sound. You want to understand the options in the marketplace. But you let solutions supersede a full understanding of your needs. And, most of the time that’s the quickest path to disappointment and frustration.Instead, start the process inside your own organization by documenting your needs. Include any other software with which your solution may need to interplay. Interview members of your team and distinguish must haves from wants and dreams. This requirements documentation should be your guide in assessing all software solutions.
- Research options. Review software solutions online and compare them with your requirements. Reach out to other providers you know and trust and ask them about their experiences. Make sure you probe on the downsides as well as the upsides because every software has pluses and minuses. To keep emotions in check, develop a set of questions. Ask everyone the same questions. Document the feedback you get and use that as a touchstone throughout the process. Don’t forget to ask about costs, including deployment expenses.
- Set your budget. Based on your research, you now know roughly how much your annual licensing and deployment costs will be. Determine a range you feel comfortable with before you contact vendors.
- Ask for a test drive. Now, you should contact the vendors whose solutions best align with your needs, wants and dreams. Ask for a demo. Include representatives from different departments – especially frontline staff – in your review of the platform. Develop a simple assessment document each reviewer can use to standardize the evaluation process. Don’t be afraid to do multiple demos with each vendor. And, don’t hesitate to talk through concerns with other providers who have used the platforms. Make sure you fully understand each vendor’s approach to deployment.
- Review, decide, communicate. Gather all your assessment data and review. Solicit additional input from your team as necessary, but don’t democratize the decision. Use a simple decision matrix to assess your options and help you make the final decision. Before you communicate your decision to staff or the chosen vendor, write up some talking points for yourself outlining the decision you’ve made, how you made it, why you made it and what limitations of the software you are willing to accept. This little exercise can be a powerful final check to ensure confidence and clarity in the final decision.
Software purchasing decisions are among the hardest decisions we make as business leaders. The consequences can be wider reaching than we realize, and a choice made in haste can be one we have to live with for years to come.
With a thoughtful process that marries emotional awareness and cool-headed rationality, you can make a choice you’ll be proud of for years to come.