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Geology 4 min read

Evaluating Geology and Seismic Software? 7 Questions to Ask

Published on February 28, 2024

Learn how to evaluate geological and seismic software packages and choose the best platform to enable workflows and support team collaboration.

Evaluating Geology and Seismic Software?
7 Questions to Ask

Streamlined workflows, seamless collaboration, and an easy-to-use interface can make all the difference to geoscientists working with geological and seismic software applications all day.

However, finding the right solution may take some careful prospecting. If you’re looking for a new software package, you’ll want to learn a bit about how the software platform works, how the company operates and supports its customers, and what you can expect from the platform — today and in the future.

In this article on evaluating geoscience software packages, we’ll explore:

  • Why the evaluation stage is critical when choosing new software
  • 7 questions to ask when evaluating geological and seismic software
  • The impact of choosing the right geoscience software

Why the evaluation stage is critical when choosing new software

While it may require some time and effort, the process of evaluating software is crucial. At first glance, most available software options will seem like they’ll work reasonably well for your needs.

Asking the right questions can help you build out a more robust comparison of packages that may appear similar on the surface but can deliver distinctly different experiences and results for your team.

A careful evaluation is usually a good investment, as switching to a new software program isn’t always smooth. Sixty percent of employees experience frustration with new software, and over half wish management would reinstate old systems, according to IT research and consulting firm Gartner.

Digging deep during the vetting stage can help you ensure a better outcome, and a greater likelihood you’ll reap the benefits of the new system.

7 questions to ask when evaluating geological and seismic software

Choosing a software package should include careful assessment of cost, but also how your team will fare working with it and if the package you choose will work for you in the future.

Here are seven questions to ask when evaluating a new software package:

1. What else will I need to complete my workflows?

Many SaaS companies have affordable entry-level packages that look appealing but may not accommodate everything you need them to do. If you haven’t explored what else is available, it may cost more than you’d planned to spend by the time you cover what you need.

“Be sure you understand if you’ll need additional tiers or modules in order to complete the workflows you do today,” says Murray Brack, CEO of SeisWare.

2. Are the licenses perpetual or subscription?

Software packages can be sold with a perpetual license, where you buy software outright in the version that exists today. These licenses can age out or be incompatible with other technology updates.

“Perpetual licenses may come with software maintenance and support costs that will need to be paid every year,” says Murray. “If they do, ask what happens if you stop paying.”

You can also purchase software as a subscription to allow access to a software platform that is maintained and updated in real-time as needed. With a subscription, you’ll always have access to the latest version of the software, plus any support or maintenance you need.

3. What kind of support do you offer?

Your experience with new software, and that of your team, will be strongly influenced by how a company handles software maintenance and support.

“Ask how companies handle onboarding and transition and what the support options look like for the initial switch from existing programs,” says Murray.

Next, ask about follow-up and ongoing help as needed and see what your options are for communication and support. It’s helpful to know if you can reach a real person and if you’ll be dealing with outsourced customer support or a company employee.

4. Has the price gone up recently? How often and why?

The cost of a new software package matters; understanding how the company handles pricing and price increases is also important.

“Asking for information on how pricing has changed over the past few years may help give you some visibility into what lies ahead for your costs,” says Murray.

Reasonable increases as functionality or costs have gone up may be easy to understand, but frequent and random changes could indicate you’ll see the same in the future.

5. How flexible is the software if your team grows?

Be sure you understand if the software will work for a multi-disciplinary team environment. Ask how projects can be shared or accessed by multiple people to understand how the package will enable collaboration.

“It’s also wise to be sure you know how many users you can have using the software and what the costs will be if you expand your team size,” says Murray.

6. Do you regularly collect and review feedback from users?

Asking if a company collects user feedback and if it’s ever influenced development can help give you insight into how they handle client relationships.

It’s encouraging if a vendor is not only focused on delivering a dependable product today but can also share examples of times when they sought user feedback in the past and made fixes or upgrades to their application as a result.

7. What kind of learning curve will I and my team experience?

While it is difficult to predict every project and workflow your company may embark on in the future, most software companies can advise on the typical learning curve involved in adopting their platform.

“You can ask how long it may take to onboard your team, how long a typical user may need to learn a new software program, and what kind of support the average user needs to get started,” says Murray.

These questions can help you gather the information you need to accurately assess and compare various software applications to find the one that will suit your needs most closely.

The impact of choosing the right geoscience software

The right software should enable multi-disciplinary teams to manage data and work together without friction. It should streamline workflows and help users be more productive and efficient in their work.

You should feel confident that there will be ample support at the beginning of your journey with the provider — and down the road.

In the best-case scenarios, a great-fit geoscience software package will enable better decision-making and give you a competitive edge as you trim wasted time and effort.

With careful evaluation, you’ll be able to choose a complete software package that includes everything you need. Connect with an account manager to dig into these or any other questions.

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