PRODUCTIVITY

7 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Data Collection Software

Rob Burns

With thousands of productivity apps on the market, what’s the most effective way to evaluate your options? Once more, how do you know if you’re making the right decision for your business?

QUESTION #1
What’s the average adoption rate among the users of the app?

"Just 13% of reps say they harness the full capacity of their sales tools (Accenture)."

If an app is hard to use and has major issues with usability issues, you will find the app has a low adoption rate among customers. The value of the software should always outweigh the effort it takes to use it. Find a solution that has good usability and requires little effort from reps to start experiencing the benefits. Look for features and functionality like drag-and-drop UI's, visual reports and simple to connect interactions, that improve rather than hinder your business and data process. This process will, in turn, drive adoption by allowing reps to focus on their job rather than the paperwork.

QUESTION #2
What does the training and setup process look like?

"59% of reps believe they are required to use too many tools (Accenture)."

When you deploy new software in your business, it will take you away from your core work. You may be tempted to hire a third-party to assist, and some companies even hire a dedicated specialist to oversee implementation and training. However, the most cost-effective and time-efficient solution is to select a vendor that provides consultative, in-house implementation services and can work with your team to understand the way your business works. 

QUESTION #3
How many supporting tools will my team need to interact with each day?

"59% of reps believe they are required to use too many tools (Accenture)."

Today’s market is filled with one use solutions that seek to solve small pieces of the data collection and automation puzzle - from offline forms to API connectors and reporting visualization. The more tools your team must use on a daily basis, the harder it will be to improve productivity. In addition to hurting adoption rates, this will limit visibility by scattering data and intelligence across multiple platforms - not to mention, these one-time use solutions don’t come for free! What you need to do is look for a solution that provides offline forms, web forms, integrations, real-time notifications and other necessary tools, that can all be found within in a single platform, for a single price.

QUESTION #4
Are there any limitations when collecting on all devices?

"It takes a business on average 6-24 hours to find business intelligence with their current platforms (Sage)."

Collecting from your customers is just as important as collecting from your reps. Legacy products may only allow you to collect from the web or via a smartphone app. Any data management software worth its salt will have forms that can collect data on a native offline mobile experience as well as full web based forms. All forms need to be optimized for phones, tablets, and desktops.

QUESTION #5
Will I get spreadsheets, or will I get insights?

Because legacy data collection tools were not built for the big data era they merely collect. They don’t work as a data management platform, they collect only basic information and will typically provide list-like reports that will tell you what or how many, but won't offer advanced filtering. Once more, many terms of service agreements indicate vendors’ rights to sell and use this data. In contrast, next-generation data management platforms are built to securely and automatically collect, as well as process information, around every dimension of your business's processes. 

QUESTION #6
How easily can it connect to my company’s existing systems?

"Companies use an average of 7 different business management tools (Bain & Company)."

If a vendor’s answer to this question is to hand you a 50-page “quick guide” to its API limitations, this should give you a pretty good idea of the challenges you can expect to face. Future-proof solutions should provide robust APIs that enable, not inhibit, the ability to sync data between your sales software and other systems. Vendors that offer key-out-of-the-box integrations and extensive, hands-on API support, in our eyes - get bonus points.

QUESTION #7
What resources does the vendor offer to support long-term success?

While many vendors vow to acknowledge support issues within a few hours, this is very different from solving them. In fact, many license fees cover minimal support only, with additional fees of up to 25% for “premium support.” The quality (and cost) of a vendor’s support can be assessed by the volume of materials that have been posted online to answer common questions - if you see video tutorials, it is a good sign they want to help all types of learners. Be sure to select a provider that offers telephone support and live support via chat - these will be the vendors who will be invested in building a partnership with your company, not just looking for upsell opportunities.


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For more insight into the critical questions, you should be asking when it comes to evaluating data collection software, visit www.Launchcloud.com

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