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Website & Technology

Analyzing Software Features

Author: Tatiana Morand
June 3, 2011
🕑 2 min read

Here’s what NOT to do:
Do NOT send your list of requirements to vendors and ask them to fill it out.

It’s a useless exercise for two reasons:

  1. High-level requirements are hard to interpret. YOU know what kind of online event registrations you need. The vendor knows what is possible in their software and will assume that’s what you meant. Old but true cartoon (source unknown – click to enlarge):

  2. Salespeople are eager to please and will always tend to cheerfully mark “Yes” for all requirements… even if they have no idea what you meant.

What SHOULD you do? Pick several (3 is a good number) scenarios for your typical data-processing tasks. Pick some of the most common ones – and define the process end to end. Here are some examples:

  • Add new event, customizing the registration form along the lines of your own typical events;
  • Have a member register and pay online for this new event;
  • Have a registration confirmation sent to the registrant;
  • Review a report on event registrations;
  • Send an email to event registrants to remind about the upcoming event they have registered for.

Now, have 2-3 volunteers go through these scenarios for each of the software packages on your shortlist, to evaluate how complete the software is and how easy the tasks are to accomplish.

As mentioned earlier, demand full access to a trial account from the software vendor and do your homework as described above. If salespeople breezily assure you that “we will easily customize it to work for you,” ask them to show you the proof – or count on it not being easy.

And one more note about those customizations: Whenever possible, try to avoid them. True, they can make your life easier in the short term. But very likely they will make future upgrades much more of a pain and expense.

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