How does an evaluator decide what software packages to try and to take on for regular use? From database maintenance to note-taking to report production, evaluators use a wide variety of software packages in their daily work. Software makes handling large amounts of data and presenting them in interesting ways efficient and easy, and allows evaluators to share the information with clients in dynamic ways. There are many, many different packages to choose from, and it seems like there’s a new one appearing all the time. ACET evaluators were asked this week to talk about the factors that help them select new software solutions.
Cost. It’s an obvious factor, but the price of software does not necessarily prevent ACET evaluators from pursuing it as an option, internally or for a client. The functionality of the software was generally given greater weight by ACET staff rather than cost. In addition, when cost may be a concern there are many licensed and free, open source packages alike that ACET utilizes on a regular basis.
Learning, Training, and Sharing. New software packages take time to learn how to use, as well as teach to a client who may need the features. As a result, time needed to become proficient with software is a consideration for ACET when selecting new software. Everyone who needs access to the software to view, edit, add, or retrieve data (both inside and outside of the office) should be able to do so with a minimum amount of difficulty.
Usability. For more than one ACET evaluator, choosing between software packages came down to a simple question: “Does it do what I need it to do?” If a software package is similar to a program currently used in the office, or if there wasn’t a specific, preexisting need for another type of software package, assessing a new package wasn’t even a consideration.
What do you consider when looking at a new software package? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.