Microsoft Word™ just isn’t cutting it anymore, which is why many companies are adopting technical report writing software to automate time-consuming steps, reduce errors, and drive down the labor cost of getting these essential reports out the door.
But choosing the right technical report writing software is critical. You don’t want to invest resources getting your team up to speed on software you later realize isn’t the best fit.
Going into the evaluation process with thoughtful questions can help you choose the technical report writing software that’s right for your team. Here’s what you should be asking.
“Does the software integrate easily with other solutions?”
You’ll maximize your productivity and efficiency gains if your technical report writing software integrates with your systems, third-party data sources, and information you collect in the field.
Ask if the software makes it easy to exchange information with your ERP or project management software (whether it’s homegrown or a third-party package) to ensure consistency and create a crucial system of record. You’ll also want to confirm there’s good connectivity to vendors that provide necessary information and other data sources your team needs to integrate directly into their reports (so they’re not spending time manually entering data).
Finally, find out if you can populate reports automatically with data your team collects from various sources while in the field, avoiding redundancy and delays associated with completing field work in the office.
“Will we only get generic templates to customize, or do you offer industry-specific reports?”
The best technical report writing software combines standard templates the vendor can easily transform to your needs with ready-to-go toolkits for the most common reports in your industry. Some platforms (like Quire) will even work closely with you during onboarding to re-create your existing templates and make efficiency improvements for the most optimal template design.
If you run an environmental consulting firm, a toolkit that makes it easy to create a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment will get you up and running fast. If you run an architectural firm, a toolkit for developing property condition assessments in accordance with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac will reduce report writing times. Ask the providers you’re evaluating whether they offer industry-specific toolkits or a robust onboarding process to speed your time to productivity.
“Is there a mobile app to improve how our field staff writes reports?”
Field-based teams often collect data and take photos and notes on site, then do redundant work to write their reports later. You’ll want to eliminate that pain point and provide a more efficient way for field employees to develop technical reports.
Find out if the provider has a mobile app for populating reports in the field, one with functionality similar to their web-based application. Look for productivity-boosting features like the ability to enter salient data directly into reports; add custom notes using voice-to-text or free typing; email notes to stakeholders; upload, caption, and edit photos; view image metadata (such as latitude, longitude, date, and time); download reports to work offline; and scan documents with a phone or tablet. Plus, it should work offline when you’re in a spot with poor cell service.
That’s a long wish list. But if you’re going to equip your team with a more robust technical report writer, you shouldn’t leave your field-based staff with a sub-par tool.
“How is your technical report writing software priced?”
You’ll quickly find there are two pricing models for technical report writing software: per report or per user. The choice can have a big impact on your total costs and your flexibility in meeting customer demands.
- With a per-report pricing model, you typically get a license for an unlimited number of users. That sounds great…until you realize the number of reports you can write isn’t unlimited and trying to estimate how many you need is a guessing game. In fact, our research shows that report writing volume varies significantly throughout the year. Odds are you’ll underuse your license (paying for more reports than you need) or overuse it (getting charged for reports that exceed your license). Per-report pricing also limits your ability to take on more work without additional fees for higher report usage.
- With a per-user pricing model, you’re only charged for the number of people who use the software, no matter how many reports they generate. That means no surprise charges and easier budgeting. If a user leaves or no longer needs access, you can cancel their license and start saving.
Read more about the pros and cons of different Technical Report Pricing Models in our comparison blog.
“What is your long-term roadmap?”
You don’t just buy technical report writing software for what it can do today; you also buy it for what it will do tomorrow. When you invest in a report writing solution to boost productivity and efficiency, you want to be confident that the vendor will continually enhance the software to keep up with your evolving needs.
Ask providers if they have a long-term roadmap for software enhancements, including a new release schedule. At Quire, for example, we complete new releases twice a month on average, and our platform is constantly adding new capabilities that directly (and positively) impact Users. You should also ask how much of the company’s R&D budget is invested in this product, as opposed to others in their portfolio. A vendor that offers many product lines and services will need to spread its investments thin, leaving fewer resources to invest in the technical report writing platform.
“Is our data secure? Who owns it?”
When companies contract for a SaaS (software-as-a-service) solution, security and intellectual property rights are often top of mind. Many wonder whether their data stored in the cloud can be viewed by other companies running the same software or could be resold to 3rd parties.
- To gain peace of mind, ask providers these questions: Do they encrypt data while in transit and at rest using a secure HTTPS connection?
- Is each client’s account in its own silo, with separate computing resources?
- Do they conduct periodic penetration testing to assess their infrastructure’s vulnerability?
- Are they using a cloud services provider with the level of resources needed to ensure a high level of security?
- Does the contract stipulate that the vendor doesn’t own and won’t open-source the client’s intellectual property?
“What will the onboarding experience be like?”
Getting your team productive fast is critical to optimizing your investment, so it’s important that the provider has a well-developed onboarding process.
First, find out how much work you’ll need to do to transform your report templates in the new software. Some companies fear they’ll be responsible for getting their content into the structured lists that report writing software uses. Look for a provider with functions and libraries that eliminate that work on your end. Ideally, an Account Manager should take care of the bulk of the template transformation—only leaning on you as a subject matter expert and for reviews and approvals.
Next, ask what the training and support experience is like. Does the provider offer training in engaging formats, like video? Do they have knowledgeable support reps accessible by live chat or email—people you’ll get to know by name? Do they offer a knowledge base you can tap once you’re live? Are there service level agreements for support response times? How often will your Account Manager do check-ins?
“How appealing a workspace will this be for our end users? Do you have references?”
Your end users will spend much of their time head-down in your new technical report writing software. You want their experience to be more Marriott than Motel 6!
Dig deep to find out what it will be like to work in the software. Is it intuitive and easy to use? Can your team keep tabs on work-in-progress and zero in on areas needing attention? Will the software free them from the tedium of formatting? Will it simplify their work lives? Do other technical professionals vouch for the quality and service?
When you evaluate technical report writing software, questions like these can help you choose the best fit for your needs—and you’re likely to find that’s the Quire platform!
Quire offers smooth integration with your systems and those of third parties; a combination of customizable templates and industry-specific toolkits; a mobile app that field-based teams love using; per-user pricing that gives you flexibility and control; a secure application and infrastructure powered by Amazon Web Services; frequent software releases; a smooth onboarding process; and a workspace your end users will enjoy.
That’s why companies in environmental consulting, construction, energy, seismic/geothermal, facilities engineering, and accounting choose Quire for their technical report writing software.
Request a demo and see what Quire can do for you!