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How to cope if your boss wants you to recommend software

Have you been given the task of finding, evaluating and recommending software for the small business where you work ?

It’s a great opportunity ahead of you but it also presents some risks and pitfalls that need watching.  The search process itself can also be a big hidden cost. Here are a few things you should be aware of before you jump into the process…

Deciding on software for small business

  1. Owners or partners of a small business often delegate the software selection process to employees they see as more technically-savvy or more organised than most. Your job is to present a shortlist of recommended options, to help them make the final decision. Think of the task as a vote of confidence in you.
  2. Employees made responsible for software selection often feel overwhelmed and unsure where to begin. There are so many products available, and you may not have been through a process like this before. That’s normal.
  3. A sense of personal risk is often involved – this is a chance to prove yourself but conversely you don’t want to make a recommendation that backfires on you. You don’t want to be “that guy” who suggested buying the software everyone hates.
  4. Research shows that owners of a business choose software differently than managers. [ref 1] For instance, managers often think the price and popularity of a package are critical … but business owners rate those amongst the least important! Research suggests owners tend to be more strategic, considering more factors and weighing them differently than managers do when evaluating software.

What does this mean for you?

Firstly, it means you should take the task seriously because the owners of the business certainly will.

You should also look for ways to educate yourself about good software selection practices and involve outside experts or information sources if possible. Adhering to a solid process gives the owner confidence, and can help you manage the many stakeholders involved.

You should also discuss what the important factors are with your boss and other stakeholders, and ensure that you are transparent in how you arrived at your recommendations. This focuses the discussion on the evaluation process (not just the end outcome) and not only does it help you choose software more intelligently, it also protects you from any perceived personal risk.

How Software Shortlist can help

Software Shortlist provides a “shortlist + compare” tool that can help you recommend software for your business. It steps you through a more robust software evaluation process than small businesses typically use, but it is still simple and easy to use for non-IT experts.

Software Shortlist also gives you the flexibility to adjust the weighting of different factors (e.g. price, ease of use, scalability). So if your boss turns out to have a different view on priorities you can easily adjust your shortlist accordingly. Plus, we’ve screened out products that aren’t up to scratch and have conducted independent reviews on each software product included in the comparison service. User reviews are available too to give you an additional, external perspective.

Go find that software

I hope this post helps you understand a bit more about the challenge and opportunity ahead of you in choosing software for your small business.

Why not let us know how it goes, and share your thoughts or experiences below so others can benefit too?

[ref 1]: P.Y.K Chau “Factors use in the selection of packaged software in small businesses: Views of owners and managers,”Information & Management 29 (1995) 71-78