If you're in the market for a new 360-degree feedback tool, there is no
shortage of choices. In fact, a simple Google search for "360-degree
feedback tool" yields dozens of companies in this space. How do you choose
the one that best meets your company's needs? Further, how can you determine
what sets a particular software vendor apart from the rest?
Faced with so many choices it's no wonder that prospective clients ask us
frequently about how we differentiate ourselves from our competitors. While
we can easily point to a myriad of features that make the EchoSpan product
unique, we know it's our framework for business and product development that
makes us truly different. Our unique approach to continually improving our
business is why we've grown to a client base of more than 4,000 companies
over our 14 years in operation and a product that supports a wider array of
client needs than any other tool.
Rather than relying on one or two qualities or features of our tool to
differentiate ourselves, we seek to differentiate ourselves by consistently
and continually developing tools that provide value along four dimensions of
value: Autonomy, Flexibility, Usability, and
Reliability. In following these guidelines, we have created features
and services that are valued by our clients and stand the test of time in an
Our product development decisions seek to maximize utility along
these four dimensions:
1. Autonomy: The customer should be able to manage all
aspects of their project without needing help from us.
2. Flexibility: The tool should give project managers
choices in how the software works.
3. Usability: The software should be easy to operate
with little training and have a modern, attractive appearance.
4. Reliability: The tool should work consistently and be
available when customers need it. Reliability underpins the other three
Consider the first three dimensions, Autonomy, Flexibility,
and Usability independently for a moment. It's relatively easy for
a software company to excel at two of the three, but usually it is at the
expense of the third. For example, many companies produce tools that provide
Flexibility and Autonomy, but are hard to use or
aesthetically unpleasing. A common example of this is just about any
large-scale HRIS system. They are designed to let administrators manage their
employee population across a wide variety of business structures, locations
and functions. However, very few HR professionals would commend them on
their Usability as they are almost always famously known for their
obtuse, dated interfaces and confusing visual organization schemes. Whenever
we develop new features for the EchoSpan system, we make certain that they
deliver value across these three dimensions. Reliability underpins
our other three dimensions of value. If our tools are not
available when needed and if their outputs cannot be trusted to be correct
and consistent, the other qualities of the tool are devalued.
Below are some examples of how our four dimensions of value manifest
themselves in our product.
Our tool strives to provide clients maximum autonomy in managing their
projects. Our product is built with the belief that users should have full
control over every aspect of their projects. For example, when building
review forms, Administrators are
able to select content from our library, use their own content, or a
combination of both. Reviews can then be translated into more than 140
languages using automated or custom translations in just a few clicks.
Rating scales, relationship groups, workflows and even email messages are
easily customizable from within the administrative tool.
Administrators are also empowered to manage all aspects of reporting
including generating reports in batches, automatic distribution, and
generating reports on-demand based on simple rules they set. Additionally,
Administrators can easily configure automatic translations of the user
interface, reports, review content, and instructional text. Most importantly,
Administrators can do all of this without an EchoSpan employee intervening.
We have designed our tool so that it is highly customizable by the user
and adaptable to every client's needs. Our tool comes stocked with a number
of pre-built report templates to pick from. However, many clients wish to
personalize their report templates for their organization's specific needs.
So that clients have maximum choice in tailoring their reports, we provide a library of
report components to select from and multiple preset templates
for instant configuration of popular report options. With the EchoSpan tool, you
have control not only over what pages and sections appear within your
reports, but also the formatting, labels, and introductory text of all your
Furthermore, the tool's multi-language capabilities allow users around
the globe to respond to reviews in their native language. In just a few
clicks, project administrators can convert a review form from one language
to more than 140 others. Review projects can be run in multiple languages
simultaneously, as can reports.
EchoSpan seeks to provide a feedback system that is visually simple and
intuitive for any type of user. Final reports are designed to be read and
understood with no training or instruction necessary for Administrators or
Our user interface is also designed to be used without any training
necessary for end-users. Users can simply login to their review, select the
language they would like to complete the review in, and select their
responses. The idea is that our tool should be making the 360 review process
easier, so users shouldn't need to take additional time to learn the tool
that is supposed to be making their jobs easier.
Autonomy, Flexibility, and Usability are key dimensions in delivering
purposeful software, but all depend on the system's Reliability. EchoSpan's
enterprise-grade application network ensures that our tool is available when
customers need it. We pride ourselves on providing state-of-the-art at-rest and in-transit encryption to keep
data secure. Multiple application tiers and high-availability network
hardware ensure the system is running when our customers need it to be. We also ensure our tool's reliability by
keeping all our support staff in-house and providing users with a searchable
knowledge base should they ever need support.
It is one thing for a software company to deliver a product that solves
an immediate problem and then tack on cool features here and there. However,
without a clear vision that defines a product development path, the
integrity and longevity of a product are hampered. We have seen many
companies begin with a new approach to feedback, an attractive
user-interface, or promises of lower costs through simplicity. But, without
a true framework for product advancement, they quickly grow stale in the
face of an industry that is advancing in several directions simultaneously.
We believe our approach of continual improvement along key dimensions that
matter to our customers is the clearest path forward.