Software is omnipresent in the modern workplace; however, its rapid evolution has led businesses to grapple with its effectiveness. For example, seven years ago McKinsey predicted social technologies could raise worker productivity by 25%.

Today, it’s estimated that each worker sends on average 200 Slack messages per week, and we find ourselves seriously questioning whether that increases their productivity or just distracts them. Recent survey results from GetApp on the impact of business software in the workplace reveal similarly mixed results.

Key Findings

  • Though employees are generally positive about the software they use at work, just 30% of business leaders and 26% of associates are completely satisfied with new tools their organization has deployed in the past two years. With revenue, employee retention, and productivity on the line, making smart software choices that wholly meet end-user expectations has become crucial for businesses.
  • 42% of business leaders strongly believe the benefits new software offers employees are well communicated to staff, but only 25% of associates feel the same way. Workers that report a firm understanding of how software benefits them also tend to be more satisfied with new software rollouts.

a bar chart showing employee satisfaction regarding software deployment

Overall, workers appear upbeat about software their organization has selected over the past two years, with 87% of leaders and 78% of associates at least somewhat satisfied with recent purchases. However, a limited portion of workers reported complete satisfaction across both groups, with just 30% of leaders and 26% of associates responding this way.

A bar chart showing whether employees think the benefits of new software are communicated

When asked how well the benefits new software offers are communicated to staff, management was 16% more likely to hold extremely positive views than their lower-level counterparts. This suggests a disconnect between leaders and associates when it comes to communication throughout the software selection and deployment process.

Selecting good software is like filling a job position

Choosing software that will completely satisfy all users is a near impossible task. However, treating the selection process like a job interview can help businesses increase their likelihood of satisfying employee expectations and selecting software that achieves its intended results. Here’s how to find an effective collaborator:

Scope out the position. Start by defining the specific “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” for the software you’re looking to purchase, including the budget for purchasing it. For example, If you’re seeking a customer relationship management (CRM) solution, consider whether you simply need basic contact management to wrangle a growing list of customers and prospects or more sophisticated features such as marketing automation and analytics. Defining these criteria early on will help your business spot over or underqualified candidates.

Review resumes. Software vendor resumes come in the form of product marketing. Understand that much like the estimated 85% of job candidates that lie on their resumes, the rosy language and robust feature sets described on vendor websites should be looked at with a critical eye. Leverage free research tools to compare reviews and identify top vendors in the software category you’re evaluating. Then head straight to the product pages for the shortlist of four to five solutions that might be a good fit.

Interview top candidates. You likely wouldn’t hire someone without spending some time with them first, and you shouldn’t do it with software either. Start actually testing the software you’re considering purchasing. While this might feel like a time-consuming task, this is the most surefire way to make a smart decision. If you’re struggling to figure out how a specific tool works, sales representatives will be more than willing to show you the ropes. If a vendor doesn’t offer a free trial, simply move on.

Make a decision. Unlike filling a job position, selecting software typically doesn’t involve offers and negotiation, though, much like an employee, software is an investment of time and resources. After extensive product testing, you should weigh pros and cons with key stakeholders and decide whether to pull the trigger.

Build employee buy-in. Depending on the size of your company, you may not be able to seek the opinions of everyone who will use the new software before purchasing it. However, you need everyone to understand the value of the new tool and at least be open to learning how to use it properly.

Don’t introduce new software as an edict, but rather an opportunity. Frame how and why new software is being introduced in terms of benefits to employees, customers and the business. Just like company announcements that explain the background and role of new hires, help employees understand the impetus for software deployment, how it should be used and the benefits it brings with it.

Use software to solicit employee feedback on software

After onboarding your new software hire, you’ll need to conduct routine performance evaluations. If you’ve signed up for a monthly subscription that can be canceled at any time, consider using survey software to gauge employee sentiment after one to three months of use. If you’ve entered a longer-term contract, quarterly evaluations should suffice.

Measures of employee satisfaction with software do not need to be complex. In fact, a common form of measuring customer satisfaction is net promoter score (NPS), a single question used to gauge overall customer satisfaction that simply asks customers how likely they are to recommend a product or service to others.

example one-question evaluation used to gauge overall customer satisfaction

Example of a net promoter score (NPS) survey (Source)

3 questions to ask your employees

  1. How satisfied are you with X software? (Scaled response)
  2. Is X software achieving its intended results? (Scaled response)
  3. What issues have you encountered while using X software? (Free-form response)

If survey results suggest employees are unsatisfied, you’ll need time to adjust course. Either change how the software is used or switch to a different product entirely. Keep in mind that the longer your business relies on a solution, the more invested employees become in it, the more processes depend on it, and the more company data it houses.

Find a long-term collaborator employees work well with

Software adoption success is likely to vary wildly depending on your organization. If you find yourself and your staff frustrated with the tools in use, consider whether software needs to be made redundant. While the rehiring process may seem daunting, the potential gains in employee productivity and satisfaction will have positive reverberating effects throughout your entire organization.

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Methodology

In May 2019, GetApp used Amazon Mechanical Turk to survey 346 business leaders and associates. Both groups were required to be employed full-time and reside in the United States. Respondents also had to work in a business with 500 or fewer employees. Over 90% of leaders and associates reported working for businesses earning USD 250 million or less in total annual revenue.

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