At SAManage, we want to help you make the smartest choice when selecting a SaaS vendor. In prior posts, we highlighted key questions to ask in the areas of security, data retention and ownership, performance and availability, support, enhancements and upgrades, and integration. This week, we’ll provide guidance when it comes to inquiring about usability.
Why Usability Is So Important
On-premise software applications have a bad reputation for being complicated and difficult to use. Yet, in spite of the fact that the majority of users are business professionals (not technical ones), many packages require analyst-level expertise in order to navigate the complex features and sophisticated functionality.
And, while the majority of SaaS solutions are far more intuitive than their on-site counterparts, many of them still have interfaces that are seriously lacking when it comes to user-friendliness.
Choosing a cumbersome, hard to use solution will create a whole host of problems. For example, it may:
- Significantly increase total cost of ownership (TCO)
- Require extensive end user training, which can drain productivity and drive up initial expenses
- Delay solution rollout, realization of benefits, and return on investment (ROI)
- Decrease user adoption, diminishing the value of the solution
What to Look For
Of course, every SaaS provider is going to tell you their solution is intuitive. But, don’t take their word for it. Ask each vendor for a hands-on demonstration – or better yet, a free trial – so you can see for yourself how user-friendly the interface truly is. You may even want a handful or potential end users to participate, so you can gather their feedback and opinions on each solution’s simplicity and ease of use.
So, what are you really looking for? Since you don’t want to waste a lot of time and money on training, you’ll need a SaaS system that is as simple as Facebook, Gmail, and other popular Web applications, so users can work in an environment they are already familiar with, and get up and running instantly.
In our next post, we’ll cover the importance of contractual flexibility, and how to make sure the vendor you select won’t lock you into unfair terms.
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