Define a process to evaluate Web apps options

Apps Overload

Business software changes every day. There are apps on the market this morning that didn’t exist a week ago and a few available today that won’t be here a month from now. Keeping up with the different options for your company is a Herculean task. But failing to update your tools might give your competition an edge.

The answer? A process that lets you easily compare and contrast new Web-based applications with your company’s current software. Try this one on for size.

1.  Note your pain points.

If you have a combination of Web apps that generally works for you, it’s tempting to stick with what seems to be working. For the short-term, that approach isn’t a problem because you don’t want to spend the grand majority of your time testing software. But you probably do have some concerns about what is and isn’t working with your current suite of apps.

  • Whenever you run into a major bug, add it to the list.
  • Whenever you find you need a new feature from your existing apps, write it down.
  • Whenever you have to handle a large amount of repetitive work (the kind a computer might be able to manage), make a note.

2.  Build a list of your preferred integrations.

Connecting one app to another can mean the difference between having to copy data over to a new location manually and having your data move automatically between the software you rely on.

One of the biggest benefits to working with Web-based apps is that you can often integrate your tools to make them more powerful.

Maintaining a wish list of software integrations can speed up your decision whether or not to even consider a given app. If you can’t connect a new app to the tools you’re already using, the hassle of moving your data around probably won’t be worth the switch.

It’s also worth looking at whether a new app integrates with Zapier, IFTTT, or another service that provides additional integration between web apps. Even if a particular app hasn’t built in integrations on its own, there are now companies that serve just to integrate other companies’ apps.

3. Read up on app news.

If you aren’t staying familiar with the tools that are on the market, you’ll have a harder time deciding what to test. Maybe you can keep up to speed just by reading a trade publication or two, but you might want to add a few tech blogs to your reading routine to make sure that you’re hearing about new apps when they’re still new. You might even be able to find reduced prices or competitive edges from using apps that aren’t available to other businesses yet.

4. Set aside testing time.

Before you decide to commit to a new app — and pay the costs to completely move your business to a new platform — thoroughly test it. Testing doesn’t mean setting up a dummy account and clicking around for 15 minutes, though if you can decide quickly that a given tool isn’t a good fit, so much the better.

Invest some time and bring over some real data if you can. Many apps will give you a free trial period, which will allow you a little time to treat that new software like you might as a regular user: you can come back over the course of a few days and see how the software in question really performs under regular use. That way, you’ll be 100-percent sold on the software before you sign up as a full-fledged user.

Thursday Bram
Thursday Bram writes about the business of creativity, along with small business and freelance topics.