You know what they say: you can’t trust everything on the internet. While there’s plenty of reliable information (e.g. this blog), there are certain pages whose “facts” should be taken with a grain of salt. For reviews in particular, it can be tough to gauge which ones to trust and which to avoid.
Whether you’re looking at reviews for a 10-speed blender or enterprise software, not every review is legitimate. Determining which is which can be especially difficult for ERP software reviews. People tend to believe that every software review is trustworthy because it’s a B2B product, as opposed to your average Amazon product review. But even ERP software reviews suffer from the same legitimacy issues as other reviews. The last thing you want is to be stuck with a bad ERP software solution because of an untrustworthy review.
There are two main types of software reviews: crowd-sourced and expert. We’ll take a look at the problems with both of these types of reviews, as well as what to look for in trustworthy (and untrustworthy) ERP software reviews:
Crowd-sourced ERP software reviews can be some of the most helpful to read. Similar to the reviews you’d find on Amazon or yelp, they’re written by your peers. What makes these reviews especially relevant is that many of those peers found their business in a similar situation as your own when they bought and used an ERP system. These reviews are usually fairly short, so you can digest a lot in a short amount of time. The biggest advantage of a crowd-sourced review is that you can take into account several perspectives on various ERP solutions. The issues, however, arise from the ease of access to posting one of these reviews.
The biggest problems with crowd-sourced reviews stem from commercialized “unbiased” reviews. We refer to these as strategically biased reviews, because they’re strategically written to make an ERP system look better than it is. These reviews are written by either someone who works for the ERP vendor, or someone who was paid by them. This is an underhanded tactic used to mislead potential buyers, but it’s sadly prevalent in today’s ERP software reviews.
Another strategy of strategically biased reviews is to review the competition. Rather than reviewing their own system and showering it with praise, some companies negatively review a competing system. In our opinion, this is even worse. As unfortunate as it is, if you’ve read crowd-sourced ERP software reviews, you’ve probably come across a few of these bogus reviews. So how can you tell which reviews are legitimate, and which are biased?
Unimportant Positives or Negatives
While reading through crowd-sourced reviews, think hard about the positives and negatives the reviewer discusses. Are they discussing the pros and cons of the vendor’s cloud-based ERP and whether it’s viable for a small business or a mid-sized business? Or do they talk about how the menu button looks funny?
Software blog FreightTrainBoogie points out that most untrustworthy reviews don’t go in-depth on the aspects of the ERP system that matter. For example, they don’t touch on the functionality or whether or not the solution provides user-friendly software. Although these reviews may list some important aspects, e.g. the ease of ERP implementation, if it discusses mostly unimportant aspects, chances are it’s a strategically biased review.
Verified Credentials (or Lack Thereof)
Knowing who’s writing each crowd-sourced review is essential if you want to know whether or not you can trust it. After all, if you don’t know who wrote it, it could very easily have been someone who works for the vendor. Or, alternatively, it could have been written by someone with limited experience dealing with ERP systems.
One of the best ways to know if you can trust a crowd-sourced review is if you can see their credentials next to their review. Software provider Sprinklr discussed what separates the best review sites from the rest. They suggest that the best review sites require their reviewers to login with their LinkedIn account so that readers can see their name, employer, job title and other professional details. This provides the transparency you need to be able to judge the review based on who wrote it. You can tell that the author doesn’t work for the vendor, and you can assess the legitimacy by their experience and current job title.
You’ll usually find expert reviews on sites such as PCMag and CNET. For these reviews, an expert uses a product and then writes the review based on their experience. Expert ERP software reviews tend to be more trustworthy than crowd-sourced reviews, but that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. Even experts can be biased, whether they mean to be or not. Not to mention, there are Average Joes out there who merely claim to be experts and write reviews as if they are.
In this era of rapid expansion in the software and information systems industry, there’s no shortage of reviews from so-called “experts.” Their reviews tend to be lengthy and, ideally, should cover the most important aspects of ERP solutions in-depth.
Unfortunately, biased expert reviews can be more difficult to distinguish than their crowd-sourced counterparts. To help you realize which is which, keep the following in mind as you read through your next expert review:
Experts don’t need to hammer home the fact that they’re experts. They let their ideas speak for themselves, rather than letting their content get bogged down by buzzwords and jargon. As Freight Train Boogie explains: “Be very suspicious of reviews that go out of their way to try to ‘impress’ you with technical jargon. The more ten-dollar words they throw your way, the more suspicious you should become.”
In other words, the more buzzwords a review has, the less likely it is that it has any actual substance. “Experts” that load their content with long and overly-technical words do so to try to make their content appear smarter than it is. But as Einstein said: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” The best expert reviews are proof of this. They write with simply, everyday language with just a little bit of jargon thrown in (you have to use words like “integration” and “cloud computing,” after all).
One of the most telltale signs of a biased expert review is when they give a lot more real estate to one ERP system over others. Mostly applicable to comparison reviews, this is a subtle tactic of biased expert reviews. They can be tricky to identify because, despite the bias for one product, they include multiple products in the review. Therefore, to be able to realize the bias, you have to pay attention to how much space each product gets. For example, if an expert reviews six products, five of which get three paragraphs each while one gets 6, their review is biased.
Even when an actual expert has a subconscious bias (which we all have, for various reasons), they don’t let it affect the quality of their reviews. They score each product objectively, and they make sure to give ample and equal time to each product they’re reviewing.
There’s More Good Than Bad
Despite everything we’ve discussed about untrustworthy ERP software reviews, we believe that most reviews are worthy of your time. This article merely serves as a way to help you notice bias and weed out the bad reviews that are out there. With these skills in hand, you’ll be able to use the good reviews to help you make the right decision in your ERP selection process.