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Evaluating Online Collaboration Software – Tips, Tools, and Reviews: Part 2

Evaluating Online Collaboration Software – Tips, Tools, and Reviews: Part 2

August 13, 2014 | Elise Hymes

In our last post, we gave you tips and a tool to help you evaluate online group collaboration software. Today, we'll cover using software reviews as part of your research and evaluation process and give you some sources to get you started.

Software Product Reviews

Many people find software reviews helpful in the initial rounds of their research about different solutions. Software reviews come in different flavors. When using a software review source, you want to be sure of the reviewer's credibility and authority. Here are some factors to consider:
  • What experience a reviewer has with this type of software application, or within a specific industry or market. The more experience, the more critical he will tend to be because of how aware he is of how these type of users do their jobs and what's most important to them.
  • Whether he's been paid to review it or has received some type of compensation. Being paid isn't necessarily a bad thing. Many reviewers make a living doing so — it's more a question of how transparent they are about it and whether or not they guarantee a favorable review in exchange for the compensation. It's always a fine line to walk. Traditional publications separate staff who do the reviews (considered editorial or creative content) from those who sell advertising and subscriptions (how they make money), allowing them to claim that one doesn't influence the other.
  • Smaller, independent reviewers, such as professional journalists / bloggers, don't have large staffs and tend to wear multiple hats. That doesn't mean their reviews are less credible, in fact, quite the opposite. Even if they're being paid to review the solution, the integrity and quality of their reviews are what bring followers back for more. Their integrity keeps their business alive because without followers / readers, they have no value to the manufacturers who want as many people as possible to read those reviews and be favorably influenced.
  • If the reviewer used the software to perform the tasks it was designed to do and discusses his experience with it in the review. Some "review sites" are nothing more than summaries of softwares' features and benefits lifted from the manufacturers' websites. Some of these sites will let you rank those features and benefits and then provide you with a list of "recommended" software based on those.
  • The consistency of the quality of a source's reviews. You want to watch for whether the software reviews are all done with the same level of detail, having been used to the same degree (e.g. skimmed, demoed to, using it themselves., reading a vendor's website, etc.). Also, how many software solutions in a category they've reviewed. The more comparisons offered, the higher quality the information usually is.
  • Some review sources use crowd-sourcing as a part of their methodology. Some are nothing more than sites that gather people's opinions and use a simple rating system (e.g. number of stars divided by number of reviewers = average rating) with no moderation and no validation of the reviewers.
Here are some popular software review sources that cover the online collaboration software category. Some break that category up into subcategories, e.g. business intelligence, file syncing, document creation, etc. while others lump them into one. Some review them all, some only review one or two of the subcategories.Traditional Publications & Independent JournalistsCrowd-sourced Review Sites
  • G2Crowd
  • Find the Best (www.findthebest.com)
Software Selection & Filtering Sites

Consistency is Key

There are as many ways to choose software as there are trees in a forest. Whatever evaluation process you use, and whatever factors you include, apply them consistently across all the options you have. We’ve observed that the more consistently an evaluation process is applied, the more satisfied people are with their decisions. And that bodes well for both sides to have a productive and mutually beneficial long-term relationship.

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