| Lesson 3 || Third party software assessment strategies |
| Objective || Describe software assessment strategies by a third party. |
Third Party Software Assessment Strategies
The adoption of software into an organization's activities, such as
- web database programming tools, or
- design and layout software,
is a process of identifying targeted capabilities, current or potential user skills sets, hardware resources, and most importantly, current user preferences.
Many software assessments fail to address user resistance to new software. User resistance occurs when users perceive new software to be significantly different from their preferred software package, or as disrupting their current work methods or styles.
All the analytical, quantitatively justified research in the world will not assure successful adoption if the assessment process fails to consider the user's likes and dislikes, however irrational such preferences may appear.
Choose user friendly
Software is based someone else's idea of how one ought to perform a particular task, such as word processing documents, bookkeeping, or layout a Web page.
The best software is the one that meets projected needs with the least resistance (user, financial, and logistical) even if other packages rank higher in utility.
There are four main categories of resources you can use to select and evaluate software for a Web site development project:
- Independent or third-party assessments
- Internal/Web team research and testing
Independent or third-party assessments
Independent or third-party assessments of software products provide a perspective that is usually objective and impartial.
It is particularly valuable to use reviews that are based on benchmarking, the practice of setting minimum standards and criteria, and then comparing products to those standards. Such standards are set by organizations like the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force).
It is highly recommended that you look at a variety of sources for third-party assessments, not just one Web site or report.
Third-party assessments may also be based on active research (for example, in a usability lab), user surveys or polls, and comparative statistics such as market share. Some key third-party sources include:
Reports on vendors and products
There are a number of reports that can be purchased from organizations such as the Gartner Group (http://www.gartnerweb.com).
Good reports often include benchmarking data. Such reports usually are for purchase only, but ultimately they may save a great deal of time and money that might have been spent in researching software on your own.
Consumer review Web sites
There are Web sites that offer software reviews by consumers. Yahoo offers a comprehensive listing in its directory under Computers and Internet > Software. For example, popular sites that allow consumers to add their reviews are http://www.benchin.com and http://www.deja.com.
Web magazines and Web information portals
There are multiple Web magazines and portals that offer software reviews and assessments, such as
Paper-based trade magazines
There are several well-established trade magazines that offer reliable reviews of software. Such magazines include Datamation and Computer World.
Software vendors (or solution vendors) are usually eager to supply potential customers with plenty of information. Some companies have regional sales representatives, while others provide information through the main office.
You should ask vendors for a copy of a technical specification of their product for your team to review. Also review relevant white papers that the vendor makes available.
For creation and deployment of complex Web applications, many Web teams hire individual consultants. A lot of consultants specialize in a specific area (such as XML-based data exchange).
These consultants can provide services in selecting and implementing software. Such specialized services will probably not be needed for the entire project; therefore, these consultants will not be a permanent part of the Web team.
Question: Based on the descriptions of the four types of software assessment resources listed above (Independent or third party assessments, Vendors, Consultants, Internal/Web Team research and testing)
which do you think would be the most objective and most thorough?
Answer: Independent or third party assessments would probably be the most objective and most thorough.
Vendor reports will not be objective, but biased towards their own products. Consultants should be objective, but may have established relationships or special reseller deals that will slant their opinions.
Internal Web team research and testing may be biased by personal preferences, and your team may not have sufficient time for evaluation.
In the next lesson, you will learn about software assessment strategies that can be used internally.