I have a surprise for you guys.
Back in 2014, our company made the decision to move from a pile of marketing tools - what I like to call a Frankensystem - to a single tool that includes everything (love you, Hubspot!). This was tough for us because at the time we didn't have anyone on the team that specialized in this type of marketing - and certainly not anyone who had experience in evaluating marketing software. We had the recommendation of a consultant that planted the Hubspot seed, but other than that, it was up to me to figure out how to evaluate it. I found a comparison matrix online that compared Hubspot to some competitors, which I downloaded and added to as I researched.
A couple of months ago, another department at KaiNexus began looking for a platform to eliminate their Frankensystem, and I told them about the value of using a comparison matrix to figure out what platform was best. They're now researching options, and creating a comparison matrix to make the best decision.
Why is a comparison matrix a useful tool for evaluating software?
- Focused Sales Calls.
When you're on the phone with a vendor and they're telling you about all the cool things their platform does, it's easy to get swept up in their enthusiasm - leaving you walking away from the conversation realizing that you know a lot about the platform, but not necessarily the things you needed to know. When you have your matrix in front of you while you're on the phone, you can fill in key details during the call and end by asking about the items you haven't yet filled in. That way, you get all the info you need, without having to loop back in with the vendor later.
- Compare Apples to Apples.
Every vendor is going to focus on the things their platform does best or does differently from their competition. What matters to you, though, is the 10 or 15 critical things that the software MUST do. With a comparison matrix, you can weigh the importance of each feature and score each platform's performance in those areas to calculate a score that actually reflects what platform is the best fit for you.
- No Gut Decisions Necessary.
When you're asking your boss for a big chunk of money to pay for a new software platform, it's important that you're able to articulate why THIS platform is the one you need and demonstrate that you've compared it to the competition to determine that it's the best value. You can explain how you made an educated, scientific decision about how you want to spend that money, rather than having to declare that your gut says this platform is best.
- Compare All Available Features.
No sales demo is going to show you everything the platform can do, so you risk walking away from the call without really understanding what it's capable of. A product comparison matrix lists everything so that you see what's out there. Then it's up to you to weigh what you need and what you don't, add items, and remove unnecessary things. It's just a spreadsheet, so it's easy to tweak to your needs.
As an improvement software company, we've obviously spent a ton of time researching and developing our own improvement platform, as well as staying educated about what other platforms are available and why people use them. Making our own researched matrices is really helpful for our team when deciding what platforms to use, but it also takes a TON of time.
So, we made one for you.
How does this matrix work, exactly?
It's really easy. There's a column that lists out all continuous improvement platform features in categories ranging from the improvement cycle to security, visual management, and technical support. You'll go through and assign a weight of 1-3 to each item. Give the features you can't live without a 3, and the ones you don't care at all about a 1. Then, add each platform you're evaluating and score them based on how what they're offering meets each category.
The result is a score for each platform that's customized to your specific needs.
Pretty neat, right?!
If you get stuck on anything, there are explanations for each feature included in the Excel file. You can also reach out to the vendors you're comparing for help in filling out their portion of the spreadsheet.