Welcome!

AJAX & REA Authors: David H Deans, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, ChandraShekar Dattatreya, Pat Romanski

Blog Feed Post

How to Choose Business Software: The Top 5 Considerations

Are you looking for a new CRM for your business? How about something to manage your sales efforts, or track your projects, or handle your finances?

Searching the internet for “cloud based software” or “business CRMs” can be a daunting process; there are endless options, all with pretty websites, and all with big promises. What should you be looking for when picking a cloud solution for your business?

We have completed hundreds of software implementations, reviewed dozens of software systems, and have had our finger on the pulse of the industry for more than 5 years. These are our top 5 considerations for picking the right software for your business.

1. Security

A lot of systems promote “bank grade” security, but what does that mean? Generally, they are referring to the “SS-Enabled” nature of their web applications (with SS = Secure Socket); this is great as it adds an extra (and hard to crack) layer to the system’s security.

SSL is great, but it’s standard industry practice – the best software solutions go above and beyond that.

Does the software provide transparent information about their security, or just vague promises? Things to look for include hashed and encrypted passwords, data redundancy, IP access controls, robust permissions systems, and multi-step login authentication.

At the very least, do your homework and see how the company has handled security issues in the past, if any. Data security never matters until something happens to you – and in today’s world, it probably eventually will.

2. User Experience
Whether discussing social networks, video games, media sites, or business software, technology hacks like ourselves love user experience, ie the experience of using a product (iPhone = good. Clamshell packaging = bad).

Many business owners are attracted to management-driven software (see Salesforce and Netsuite). But before you’re drawn to a sales pitch that shows you nice bright graphs and category-based ROI, have an employee take the software for a spin. Software is only as effective as the people using it, so if the UI is a nightmare to figure out or use, then it’s likely not the best option for your business (and those reports won’t mean anything, because no one is using it).

3. Integrations/API
One of the main perks of cloud software is the ability to integrate your systems together using APIs (or, Application Programming Interfaces); basically, these are digital handshakes between systems, enabling your software to share data and information. This might mean viewing your customer service data alongside your sales data, or accessing your CRM from within your Google Apps mail account.

These type of integrations are only possible when the systems you use have open and accessible APIs. Do some research on the software and look into the integrations it offers. You don’t want to feel handcuffed by what you’ve implemented if the system’s API is lacking, or nonexistent.

Moreover, integrations aren’t all created equal. Make sure you read the documentation or find a Youtube video demonstrating how any given integration works – it might be a “lip service” integration, instead of something delivering true value.

4. The Vision
It’s important to take into account the software company’s future plans when deciding whether to onboard them for your business. In some instances the company’s founders just want to build a huge user base so they can sell the company to someone like Salesforce or Oracle. You, as the user, go from a SMB using SMB software, to a SMB using enterprise software; that’s no good.

It’s often times very difficult to judge or understand a company’s vision, though the amount and timing of their funding (if any), as well as the background of its founders are good places to start.

Are the founders engineers? Software industry guys? Or, are they entrepreneurs looking to flip their next company? Look for interviews, Techcrunch reviews, or blog posts that may hint at the company’s direction. You don’t want to be stranded a year after launch.

5. Features
It might sound obvious, but a solution’s feature-set should be a determining factor when you choose it for your business.

Just because something calls itself a CRM, for example, doesn’t mean it does the things you need it to. Take project management – most CRMs handle tasks very differently than a traditional project management tool. Whether or not that difference works for your business could be a make-or-break feature.

Moreover, solutions have different approaches to features. We’ve written previously on the Guerilla vs. Spider Web approaches – suffice to say, some software tries to do it all, while other software solutions specialize. Both have advantages and disadvantages.

———–

There are pros and cons with everything solution, and nothing is perfect. If you keep the above factors in mind when researching a new system, then you should be on the right track. And if you’re still confused? Send us a note, we’d love to help!

 

VM Associates is a New York City cloud computing consulting firm. We help companies transition into newer, better, smarter software. Contact us to talk about your business, the cloud, and how we might help.

The post How to Choose Business Software: The Top 5 Considerations appeared first on VM Associates.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Chris Bliss

Chris Bliss works at VM Associates, an end-user consultancy for businesses looking to move to the cloud from pre-existing legacy systems.

@CloudExpo Stories
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete...
"SAP had made a big transition into the cloud as we believe it has significant value for our customers, drives innovation and is easy to consume. When you look at the SAP portfolio, SAP HANA is the underlying platform and it powers all of our platforms and all of our analytics," explained Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce at SAP, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SAP is delivering break-through innovation combined with fantastic user experience powered by the market-leading in-memory technology, SAP HANA. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP, discussed how SAP and partners provide cloud and hybrid cloud solutions as well as real-time Big Data offerings that help companies of all sizes and industries run better. SAP launched an application challenge to award the most innovative SAP HANA and SAP HANA...
There's Big Data, then there's really Big Data from the Internet of Things. IoT is evolving to include many data possibilities like new types of event, log and network data. The volumes are enormous, generating tens of billions of logs per day, which raise data challenges. Early IoT deployments are relying heavily on both the cloud and managed service providers to navigate these challenges. In her session at Big Data Expo®, Hannah Smalltree, Director at Treasure Data, discussed how IoT, Big D...
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective ...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using ...
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Ar...
The term culture has had a polarizing effect among DevOps supporters. Some propose that culture change is critical for success with DevOps, but are remiss to define culture. Some talk about a DevOps culture but then reference activities that could lead to culture change and there are those that talk about culture change as a set of behaviors that need to be adopted by those in IT. There is no question that businesses successful in adopting a DevOps mindset have seen departmental culture change, ...
The 4th International DevOps Summit, co-located with16th International Cloud Expo – being held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY – announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's large...
SYS-CON Media announced today that Skytap blog on "DevOps Journal" exceeded 84,000 story reads. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. DevOps Journal brings valuable information to DevOps professionals who are transforming the way enterprise IT is done. Noel Wurst is the managing content editor at Skytap. Skytap provides SaaS-based dev/test environments to the enterprise. Skytap solution removes the inefficiencies and constraints that comp...
SYS-CON Events announced today Isomorphic Software, the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications, will exhibit at SYS-CON's DevOps Summit 2015 New York, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Isomorphic Software is the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications. We develop, market, and support the SmartClient & Smart GWT HTML5/Ajax platform, combining the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software ...
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, a...
Fundamentally, SDN is still mostly about network plumbing. While plumbing may be useful to tinker with, what you can do with your plumbing is far more intriguing. A rigid interpretation of SDN confines it to Layers 2 and 3, and that's reasonable. But SDN opens opportunities for novel constructions in Layers 4 to 7 that solve real operational problems in data centers. "Data center," in fact, might become anachronistic - data is everywhere, constantly on the move, seemingly always overflowing. Net...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the ...
"ElasticBox is an enterprise company that makes it very easy for developers and IT ops to collaborate to develop, build and deploy applications on any cloud - private, public or hybrid," stated Monish Sharma, VP of Customer Success at ElasticBox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrateg...
The Internet of Things promises to transform businesses (and lives), but navigating the business and technical path to success can be difficult to understand. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, demonstrated how to approach creating broadly successful connected customer solutions using real world business transformation studies including New England BioLabs and more.
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happe...