Call us free (AU) 1800 462 388

SoftwareShortlist beta launch

The story begins…

Nearly 18 months ago, sitting in a cafe overlooking Melbourne’s scenic Yarra river, we were grappling with a perplexing question:

Why don’t many small businesses take full advantage of the powerful and cost-effective software solutions available?

Melbourne's Yarra River - where we had the insight for SoftwareShortlist. (photo credit: Edwin 11 on

Melbourne's Yarra River (photo: Edwin 11 on

We realised some of the great software we personally used (e.g. Basecamp, Campaign Monitor, SurveyMonkey) was simply not on the radar of  many small and medium businesses … yet software like this could be so very useful for them.

As we pondered this situation, we found it opened up even more questions:


  • Why do businesses persist for so long with cumbersome legacy systems or manual work-arounds?
  • Why do businesses resort to custom software development that is many times more expensive and often less functional than off-the-shelf alternatives?
  • Why do businesses settle for well-known generic software, when better, more specialised alternatives exist?

As the sun set over the river, an important realisation dawned on us – there’s a significant market failure here!   The supply exists – there are tens of thousands of software products. And the demand for business software is stronger than ever. But the supply and demand aren’t connecting as they should. For some reason, businesses defer the decision,  give up entirely, or make do with poor alternatives. 

So, we asked ourselves, why is this? 

  • Is it that businesses don’t know what software is available?  Perhaps, but Google, Yahoo and various software directories do a decent job of providing a long list of available software
  • Is it a case of “list shock” or information overload? Maybe the act of searching brings back so many options that businesses owners get intimidated or overwhelmed by the software selection process?
  • Maybe small businesses get discouraged by technical jargon and specialist language? Could it be  that  the “Curse of Knowledge” gets in the way of vendors communicating clearly to the potential customer?
  • Perhaps the problem is a lack of comparable information on software?  With only sparse information on search engines and software directories, does it take too long for businesses to trawl vendor websites  and work out what each software package does and how it compares with other software? 

The more we investigated, the more apparent it became that search engines are only a start, and the software directory model is broken (or at least flawed). The software directory mindset is “he with the biggest list wins”. But a long list of sparse and poorly comparable information is not useful for making decisions on software. 

Inspiration strikes…

Then it hit us! We honed in on a critical insight:

 Software decision makers need a short list, not a long list.

What business owners and decision makers need is a shortlist of the most relevant and promising alternatives for them to consider. Add in some apples-to-apples comparisons and detailed product information, and then you’ve got a great way to reach the right decision quickly on which software to buy.

Yarra River At Night (photo: Edwin11 on

Yarra River At Night (photo: Edwin11 on

And so, 18 months ago as the sun set over the Yarra river, we devised the initial concept for SoftwareShortlist as a free, online recommendation and comparison service for business software.  

In the months that followed, we challenged key assumptions, spoke with software customers and vendors, mapped out a business model, started developing the website, and got to work reviewing software. 

…and it now becomes reality

Today, our journey reaches an important milestone, as we announce the public beta launch of SoftwareShortlist.

Although the beta launch represents the culmination of nearly 18 months of hard work,  even more importantly it also represents the beginning of the next stage for SoftwareShortlist. We have big plans for the future.

Today our beta service recommends and compares timesheet software for professional service firms and livestock recordkeeping software for farmers.

In coming months, we will expand coverage to other major software categories such accounting and customer relationship management (CRM), as well as a wide range of industry-specific applications.

Let us know what you think of the beta service – with your feedback and involvement, we can make SoftwareShortlist a great resource for businesses everywhere.