Esurveying: Art of Selecting Right Software

Computer Literacy started increasing rapidly from 1994 and by 2000 there were thousands of companies offering software, web site solution to various requirements. During that time Indian software professionals were busy with fixing the Y2K bug. During Dot com bust in 2000-01, many companies invested heavily on software's, hardware's and few companies took full advantage of computerization whereas many other companies lost a lot of money by doing wrong investment.

Road Design

By 2001-02 many software companies started selling half baked software and companies who choose wrong software products started burning their fingers. Then a new trend started, where buyers stated investing wisely on proven solutions. Slowly software development companies who did not have sufficient skill, started closing their shutters. The software has now become like any other commodity where there are lots of options to choose from. Now generally it is easy to find a good solution for any requirement. As only stable products are surviving in the market and sufficient product reviews are in place.

Common mistakes made by Customers while choosing Software

Although there is sufficient information available on the Internet to decide on good software, we still keep hearing about wrong investments made on software. Many of the decision makers in bigger companies are either not familiar with computer software's or they don't have sufficient time to evaluate the software before purchasing. Common practice is just to see the Brand name, negotiate a bit on Pricing and buy it. In many a case, the very big software will be in place to do a tiny job. One has to select the software depending on the nature of work they do. When software with multiple features is purchased, it not only involves multiple steps to do the job but also consumes a lot of man hours in terms of training. So, it is always better to choose a product which has a smaller learning curve.

Selecting right product is not an easy process. It normally involves following steps
  1. Find available options (Mostly from Internet search)
  2. Get a Demonstration on-site or online
  3. Use the software with Free Trail period on actual requirement
General Qualify Product attributes
  1. Product Brand Name
  2. For how long the product is being used?
  3. Approximately how many customers are using the software?
  4. Any of my contacts using this Software?
Specific features supported by the software
  1. The area calculation method used
  2. Profile Correction
  3. Road Widening
  4. Horizontal Curve
  5. Vertical Curve
  6. Super Elevation
  7. 3D Viewing Option
  8. Quantity calculation of multiple areas for given section
  9. Drawing Scaling Options
  10. How to design and apply specific road template?
  11. Print options for drawing and Report
  12. CAD System – Is it fully functional?
Consider these Price / Support /Licensing points
  1. Is the software license floating or it can be used only on specified computer
  2. It is a one time purchase or license is for a limited period?
  3. What is Annual Maintenance Policy?
  4. How will I get software updates?
  5. What options are available for support? Support Timing?
User Friendly Attributes

All the software developers claim that their software is most user friendly. Considering following factors, you can only decide is the software user friendly or not.
  1. How much new investment I have to make in terms of new hardware?
  2. How easily I integrate software like AutoCAD, Excel with this system?
  3. How fast I can adapt to this system?
  4. Does the software come with sufficient documentation and training videos?
  5. Has the product support system been in place?
With Software products becoming stable – Selecting the right software for your requirement is not a difficult task, but a little bit of background check is certainly required and the people who use the software have to be involved in decision making.

NBMCW March 2014

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