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Lesson 4 Software assessment by internal team research
Objective Describe software assessment strategies that can be used internally.

Software Assessment by Internal Team Research

In many cases, information from various external sources does not provide you with a clear indication of the best software choices. In these cases, it is common to create a team responsible for researching and testing software options. Such teams may use a job such as the one in the table below, a Feature Checklist for a new DBMS (database management system). The checklist groups features into categories of Development, Security and Data Modeling, and includes a variety of features, such as Graphical User Interface (GUI) builder, security groups, and inheritance issues in data modeling.
The Evaluation Checklist is a job aid that can be tailored to meet project needs.

Considerations when choosing a Database Management system

  1. Usability
  2. Visualisation and Reporting
  3. Security
  4. Functionality
  5. Support and Development
  6. Integration
  7. Scalability

Database and Group Management Features

Opt-out/Opt-in (subscription) Management
Feature Description
Text messaging lists require updating to include new subscribers and delete subscribers who wish to opt-out and not receive future text messages.
Different text messaging platforms may offer varying capabilities and options for the updating of recipient lists. Researchers may choose between an opt-out or an opt-in system based on their project goals, institutional policies, and institutional review board guidelines. Ability for Multiple Groups Most text messaging platforms offer unlimited recipient lists and the creation of multiple recipient groups to assist with messaging management. This feature requires minimal customizability.
End User Web Portal Access Portal access for recipients allowing the ability to subscribe to text messaging campaigns or programs via a webpage with any standard browser. Integration with Other Information Systems Text messaging platforms generally have the ability to upload lists of names, cell phone numbers, and other data from outside programs such as Excel or Outlook. Some text messaging platforms can integrate with EHRs, but this is relatively new and is best discussed with the particular EHR vendors. Integration with programs such as Excel requires only minimal customization, while interface with EHRs requires a high degree of customization and security measures. Backup System
Integration with Other Information Systems  Text messaging platforms generally have the ability to upload lists of names, cell phone numbers, and other data from outside programs such as Excel or Outlook. Some text messaging platforms can integrate with EHRs, but this is relatively new and is best discussed with the particular EHR vendors. Integration with programs such as Excel requires only minimal customization, while interface with EHRs requires a high degree of customization and security measures.
Backup System It is important to have a back-up system for stored data. Data may be backed up on a vendor server or on an internal server.
Master Account With Sub-Accounts Some systems offer user accounts under a master account to allow for multiple projects or message administrators.

What is the most important?

Notice that this checklist provides weighting of the importance of each feature. This is important to help determine the product that most closely matches project needs. Each website development project will have different priorities and functionality. Some thought should be given to the emphasis on various features of a site before you work through this evaluation checklist. In some cases, there may be trade-offs between the weight given to various features, so weighting in the checklist will help as a decision-making tool.

Trial run

Testing can be an important part of the research process. For large software purchases, it is advisable to ask vendors to provide samples for a trial basis so that you can ensure that it is appropriate for client needs, and that it can be integrated successfully with existing systems. Some vendors provide software for free for a short trial, while others charge a fee for limited trial use.
Paying a trial usage fee is usually worth the cost because it can save a great deal of time and money to discover early on if the software functions to the satisfaction of the team.

Quick Check

Question: How does the "weighting" feature of a checklist like the one above assist the team to select an application?
Answer: Weighting the importance of various features helps the team to think about which functionality is most important to a particular project, and will clarify which application is best suited overall for the project at hand.
In the next lesson, you will learn the differences between deployment vs. development software.