How to Become an Informed Buyer of Communication Technology
Evaluating technology can be a little intimidating. OK, maybe even downright scary.
It’s easy for a communicator to be overwhelmed when exploring Employee Communication and Engagement technology to help you connect with the workforce more effectively. That’s especially the case if you have never worked with system customization and software deployments. (And what the heck is a tech stack, anyway?)
Adding to the confusion is a growing number of communication technology companies that at first glance seem similar but actually have varying levels of sophistication and functionality – such as SocialChorus, Beekeeper, Apprise Mobile, Smarp, Sitrion, Staffbase.
What’s a communicator to do?
We can help cut through the noise. Here’s a checklist of things to consider as you’re comparing ECE Platforms so you can make the best decision for you and your organization.
- Understand Your Problem. Make sure you have clearly articulated the challenges your organization faces and how an ECE Platform will help overcome them.
- Do Your Homework. Talk to peers about what they’re using and get their guidance on what to look for, questions to ask, and potential roadblocks.
- Search for a Partner. Seek out a vendor who is truly interested in helping solve your problems, and not someone just interested in making a sale.
- Talk Is Cheap. Make sure your choice has proven the ability to do what you need when you need it, and the vendor has the resources to support you.
- Dig Deep. Determine if a vendor is enterprise-ready. How many employees can their system handle? Will it scale with a fast-growing organization?
- Security Framework. Can the solution meet the needs of companies in highly regulated industries such as finance and healthcare?
- Ask about Churn. Has a vendor lost customers to competitors? If so, how many and to what companies?
- Leverage Your IT Team. They can ensure your choice will deeply integrate with existing systems and security frameworks has the flexibility to address the many business units and functions of your organization, and reduces complexity by consolidating (or eliminating) other solutions.
- Identify Your Buying Committee. Understand all the internal players who must be involved in the decision-making process, and bring them into the conversation early – especially IT, Legal and HR.
- Build a Strong Business Case. Demonstrate to your internal buying committee how this particular technology will create and/or save the organization revenue.
- Demonstrate the Value Being Created. It’s rarely about buying the cheapest alternative, but it is important to show management you negotiated a deal that generates the most value.
- Establish Adoption Metrics. Determine KPIs that are achievable and make sense with the assistance of your partner (employee adoption, active users, engagement), and then hold the vendor accountable for meeting them.
- Know Your Timetable. Set expectations by communicating to your stakeholders how long the implementation process will take and their involvement.
And here is a glossary of common terms that can help you have better, more informed conversations with vendors.
- Employee Communication and Engagement Platform: A modern way for companies to connect with their most valued asset – employees. Information is delivered directly to employees, wherever they are, in the manner they prefer.
- Technology Stack: Set of software solutions that help you achieve communication goals.
- Product Roadmap: The vendor’s plan for future functionality and innovation in a solution.
- API: Application Programming Interface is how software systems communicate with one another.
- Seat License: An individual user who has access to a software product.
- SaaS: Software as a Service is how vendors sell and deliver cloud-based software, often on annual subscriptions.
- Integrations: Bringing together software products into one, cohesive system.
- Point Solution: Technology that solves one particular problem without regard to related issues.
- Plug and Play: A way to describe software that easily integrates with your existing systems without significant IT support or maintenance.