Consider this scenario: You are looking at different applications (apps) to process your bookkeeping tasks. You ask your IT guy or post a question on social media asking like-minded group members what app they recommend for the task. Within 72 hours your IT guy and 130 social media members have responded, each adamant the app they use is best for the task. How do you know which one to choose?
Here are 5 measurements in a table for easy app comparisons, together with how to use the table, and brief descriptions and sample questions for each measurement.
How to use the Table
Fill in Table 1 below. Start with the ‘your requirements’ column, ending with the ‘consequences’ row. Repeat for each app you are testing. Once complete compare your answers against each, and choose the one that matches closest to 'your requirements' column.
Table 1 Five measurements for comparing and selecting applications
Brief descriptions and sample questions for each measurement
(easy to use)
Is the app simple, logical, easy to use or do you find yourself getting stressed, frustrated, using significant mental energy and focus to figure out how the app works?
Does the app behave and perform functions in the way you expect it to?
Is the app easy to access from any device, anywhere, at any time?
Does the app have all the functions you need to run your business today and for the next 5 years so that you do not have to change it in 12 months’ time?
Does the app make bookkeeping easier, simpler, less time consuming, or does it make it harder, more stressful, error prone?
Can you easily and freely export your data in a known format if you wish to change applications?
(privacy and authentication)
What combination of authenticators (usernames, passwords) does the app require to verify your identity to access the app? Are authenticators substantial enough to keep unauthorised users out? Are authenticators substantial enough to ensure no-one can impersonate you?
How much of your personal information do you have to submit to the app in order to use it?
How does the app process and use your data and the bookkeeping data you will be inputting?
What security measures has the app taken to safeguard your personal and bookkeeping information?
Is your data stored on servers in your country or outside of it? What country’s laws do you need to abide by if your data is held in another country?
(in this article reliability includes accessibility, dependability, accuracy, maintainability)
Does/will the app function as promised/claimed, and expected without disruption?
How often does the app crash or freeze when you are working on it?
How often are you unable to access your account?
Does some of your data lost for no clear reason and needs to be redone?
Is your data backed up?
Reading posts on the app support pages and Twitter:
What are the common complaints and problems people are experiencing using this app.
Do app reviews highlight poor reliability and data loss?
How quickly do the app administrators respond to support requests and resolve/restore the system after a problem is reported?
(well known, widely used)
Is the app widely used in your country of business?
If the app was developed outside your country, does it comply with your country’s laws and best practices?
Are there any current negative debates or news about the local and global acceptability of the application which could significantly and negatively affect the popularity of the app in the near future?
(positive and negative effects to you and your business)
What will the consequences be for you and your business if the app goes wrong in some way (hacked, no longer available, prices increase, loose some or all of your data, faults cause incorrect or late tax submissions, and so on).
What are the consequences for you and your business if everything runs smoothly and all 5 measurements are met (save some money on an accountant, bookkeeping is completed regularly, stress free, and on time, able to submit to the tax office right from the app, VAT is calculated by the app, and so on).
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Beverley Pearce-Smith T/A T.O.O.D; Technology Officers On Demand; Technology Officers; Beverley Sawyer Management Consultants