New System Assessment : A Simple Set of Guidelines for judging material differences between Software

Here’s a short guide I put together for myself to help me assess the value of enterprise systems that I may be looking for or designing myself. Not hard and fast and some points may not be relevant to every application but this should form a good basis from which to start. Generally a higher number is better than a lower number but within numbers items are more cumulative and of equal value.

1)Paper based = Everything from single sheets to formal Books of Accounts
2)Simple Digital = spreadsheet and other file based storage
3)Cloud based Simple Digital = spreadsheet and other file based storage – this can include file based blob storage
4.1)LAN relational database – normalised but otherwise fairly locked down
4.2)LAN relational database + easy import and export of data other than spatial
4.3)LAN relational database + report writer definable by users
4.4)LAN relational database + spatially enabled
5.1)Internet available relational database – normalised but otherwise fairly locked down
5.2)Internet available relational database + easy import and export of data other than spatial
5.3)Internet available relational database + report writer definable by users
5.4)Internet available relational database + spatially enabled (noted not all applications require a spatial aspect)
5.5)Internet available relational database + separate site available for public access view only
5.6)Internet available relations database + separate access to public access to edit and add information

Requirements
+ UPtime / reliability
+ SPEED – after reliability very important
+ Good master details forms (sounds easy but bootstrap is not great for this)
+ GOOD Search – the larger the system the more important the search options are in it. Look out for things like Automated Objective Index creation (case sensitive search is more of a hassle than a benefit a lot of the time – odd wild cards – or not being wild by default are problem areas)

Important Points
+ Portability can you up sticks and move it to a different cloud provider
+ Non – Proprietary (Can be a gotcha if its really obscure or has weird security, often linked to portability)
+ two factor authentication
+ Responsive Design (Not necessarily as important as you think in some applications see Github / Open Layers arguably don’t need it)
+ Dynamic saving – I really miss the fast dynamic saving environment of MS Access the save button isn’t quite the same
+ Built in CRM – I generally like them especially if data can go straight into correct files.. Increasingly I am designing systems with inbuilt CRM – I know this might not be to every organisations taste but it is jarring to go between systems and normalisation between systems is usually very sub optimal – plus you frequently come across proof of negative problems when data required for a specific task is not held appropriately.
+ Satellite application for customers to enter information (why not let your customers maintain their information can be great and can empower customers Fintech anyone?)

= All the bells and whistles
Spatially enabled internet available database with two factor authentication – report writer and easy import and export of spatial and attribute information with public access to edit and add information by customers (Possibly via satellite application).

Author: Mark

Mark Brooks a forty something individual working and living in and around Edinburgh