Buying specialized software can be a painful process, even if you already have some experience dealing with technology vendors.
Sifting out substance from all the marketing buzzwords requires a pretty good understanding of the system, a process that takes considerable time and effort. There are five main characteristics of this process that should be identified in every product.
These are the five main pillars of any newly-designed software that software designers should prioritize, ensuring they get the most value for money during the design process. Whether for data management products or any technology system on the market, their pillars are highly valuable. And, speaking of value…
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Software Products Must Add Value, Subtract Fluff
Every technology system should immediately bring added value. This might seem obvious. But it’s often forgotten and overshadowed by fancy UI, complex features, or trending technology names.
For example, data management products’ added value comes from solving real-life problems. Whether you’re looking for a product on the market or thinking of creating a new one, it’s always a good idea to directly address the issues you’re trying to address.
This includes finding the currently available solutions, their advantages and shortcomings, costs associated with the specific problem, and all its impacts on various business areas.
For the most innovative solutions, understanding the problem might seem difficult from the outset as you may not be aware of the issues you’re facing or the opportunities you have. In these rare cases, it’s a good idea to spend more time looking into the underlying issue.
Make sure you can easily define the value added by the product, the general rule with establishing a forward-thinking software product.
Simplicity is a Must
Once you know what you are trying to achieve, it’s time to think about how you can get there. Just like there are typically several ways to solve a complex mathematical problem, there can be many solutions to a single business issue.
You should go with the simplest one. Complexity drives up cost, impacts performance, and reduces reliability. Smarter approaches save resources and make the process easier to understand and expand in the future.
A system’s process flow can tell a lot – fewer systemic hops, different technologies, and coding languages are usually a good sign. Some problems are more difficult to solve than others, so it is always good to compare similar products.
You shouldn’t be afraid of new ways of doing things – progress means issues that were considered complex a year or two back can now be easy to solve. Let’s take blockchain technology as an example. The increasingly adopted technology offers features like immutability, lineage, full audit, and data distribution in one neat open-source solution. Achieving these using other technologies is possible but requires building and joining a significant number of components, adding to the overall complexity of the product.
Flexibility is a Must In Today’s Landscape
In complex business environments, even the most well-defined problems evolve over time. Flexibility and agility power high-quality software solutions. Specific requirements change frequently, and a well-designed product must adjust consistently.
Customization is important, but it should be achieved via configuration rather than hard-coding. Data Management products complement core processing systems that require regular updates. At some point, the logic that works now will need to be changed. It’s better to be ready for that upfront.
Another aspect of flexibility is the possibility of expanding on the original product implementation – start using other functionalities or build new ones. The potential to evolve from a simple tool used for a specific use case to a multi-functional platform should always be considered a plus.
Creating a Fulfilling User Experience
User experience is always a top priority in any B2C software but is frequently overlooked in specialized business applications like data management products. They are often treated as workhorses that should do their job but do not need to look or feel great. That is a mistake.
User satisfaction should be an absolute priority in any technology system. Technology usually doesn’t complete the processes on its own. The interaction between the system and its users gets the job done.
Well-designed user experience makes this interaction more efficient, reducing the overall operational costs and limiting the risk of any errors. Considering that only 55% of businesses conduct UX testing, it’s something that needs to be higher on your priority list.
The Ease of Implementation
No system will bring any added value unless it’s up and running and well-integrated with the overall technology environment.
Data management products usually need to communicate with multiple data sources and consumers as their main purpose is to facilitate and control data flows. There are two main types of challenges faced in such implementations: technical and cultural – both should be considered when assessing the product.
Technical factors include different methods of integration (APIs, file transfers, messaging, etc.), managing changes in source and target systems, code deployment methods, and reliability on third-party technology. Cultural implementation challenges can be overcome by creating an incentive. A well-designed software product should offer clearly defined benefits to all new users as well as entities it is being integrated with. If a successful implementation is in everyone’s interest, delivery will be quick and smooth.
Looking at a product through the lens of these five general attributes is a good first step in evaluating any technology system. It can help quickly pick up good candidates for further detailed analysis and save a lot of time looking at sub-optimal choices. Without these basics, it’s very difficult to build a product that will meet the long-term goals of any organization.