How easy is it to use? Will it make your program more efficient?
This is, of course, a big question, particularly when considering all the different stakeholders that may or may not be involved with using the software. Spending time with the software by scheduling a demo and talking with a representative who knows the product can help more than just perusing a website. Additionally, reading reviews and testimonials is key to understanding others’ experience with the software. You will have your tech-savvy stakeholders and those who take longer to adjust. Consider both when thinking about the usability of a software.
Some software, like Tevera, are designed to simplify and streamline your workload. This is done through workflows and standardizations optimized for best practices followed by accredited programs. One size doesn’t fit all and these need to address the nuances of each field (e.g. social work, counseling, psychotherapy, etc.). This can include terminology: the less your staff has to ‘interpret’ terms used in other disciplines, the easier it is for them to master a new software system.
Speaking of workflows, be sure to drill down into the steps each software takes to complete a particular task or job. Overly complicated workflows, or processes that can’t start because of multiple dependencies, can significantly impact user experience. If complicated workflows are coupled with a support model that requires staff to support students, you may find your program bogged down by the very software you purchased to streamline it.
When customers look at software, they’ll often describe how different their processes are and want everything ‘customized’ to their unique requirements. This may sound attractive, but can lead to unforeseen consequences in terms of support, inefficiencies, and costs. Highly customized software is difficult for vendors to support and those costs will be passed on either directly in additional fees or in the form of slower response times. When comparing software vendors, look for suppliers who will candidly help you weigh the pros and cons of ‘customized’ options. Vendors concerned about saving your program time and improving efficiencies will be more focused on keeping your business than winning your business. Ultimately, this may mean taking a hard look at inefficient processes that could be improved and streamlined instead of selling you something that won’t help you improve your program’s operations.