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Five ways to improve your software’s performance

If your business software received a performance review today, would it get a passing grade?

You might be measuring things like speed, stability, and error rates, but are you sure you have a realistic 360-degree view of software’s performance? Consider this list of questions and recommendations as "test prep" to help your organization pass its next software performance review with flying colors.

1. Does your software cut the mustard with your employees?
First and foremost, does the experience provided by your software measure up to your employees' experience with consumer tech? Salesforce’s 2017 State of the Connected Customer survey found that 71% of employees want their company to provide them with the same level of technology that they use in their personal lives.

To provide customers with an optimal user experience, begin by paying attention to what your employees have to say. Their feedback about the company’s software is crucial to understanding what adjustments may need to be made. And here’s the good news: The resulting rise in employee satisfaction means less turnover, lower costs and increased productivity.

software developers.jpg
Programmers work at the Maluuba Inc. office in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015. Several leading Canadian researchers and professors have defected to U.S. tech companies such as Google. Already members of the country's AI community are trying to protect what they helped build. A startup called Maluuba, which makes technology that helps computers talk, is opening a research office in Montreal; the University of Toronto has opened a startup accelerator and this fall launched a program dedicated to AI research. Photographer: James MacDonald/Bloomberg

2. Does your software engage your users?
Despite the billions of dollars being spent on technology, Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Marketplace Report finds that only 33% of employees are engaged in the workplace. Where's the disconnect? How can you use technology to nurture more engagement?

To figure this out, start here:

  • Measure the level of user engagement with your most critical software applications
  • Identify disengaged users…
  • Identify the super-users…

Then ask them for feedback.

When we are provided with the right tools at work, we participate more actively. To ensure that your software is right for all of your employees, make sure you offer them a range of options. Once they find the right fit, they will become more productive.

And don't forget that measuring engagement isn't important only after a new deployment; it's something that should be done year round.

Speaking of engagement…

3. What’s the adoption rate for your newest applications?
In a 2013 MIT Sloane Management Review study entitled Embracing Digital Technology, 63% of managers blamed the slow pace of technological change in their workplace on a “lack of urgency” and poor communications with regard to new software.
So many businesses upgrade their technology, yet don’t see any improvement in their results. But to resolve this paradox, you first need to determine the cause. Begin by:

  • Identifying which new software applications are not being adopted
  • Measuring the extent of the adoption by determining the level of engagement

Once you pinpoint the trouble spots where a positive return on investment is lacking, it becomes much easier to determine the best course of action.

4. Are your software customizations really necessary?
Nine out of 10 ERP implementations involve some degree of customization, yet these are one of the most frequently cited reasons for ERP project failure. That plus they often complicate upgrades and increase implementation costs. So, it would behoove you to look closely at which customizations may no longer be needed, and which ones should be retired because they are no longer economical to support.

5. How much are software failures costing your business?
Tricentis, a maker of software testing tools, estimates that in 2017 software failures and defects cost businesses an astounding $1.7 trillion in lost revenue and 268 years of downtime. What portion of that burden does your organization bear? You can figure this out by measuring the financial impact and lost user productivity due to error conditions in your application environment.

Once you’ve calculated the costs, you can use them to justify improvement initiatives, such as application upgrades, additional user training, an improved UX design and better rollout and testing processes.

Software reviews should always take performance metrics into account, but unless you're monitoring real user behaviors and outcomes, you're not going to get a passing grade.

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