Leadership optimize

What influences you in making a final product decision?

When you have a product purchasing decision to make, there are usually dozens of different makes and models to choose from. Trying to sort out the differences isn't always easy to do without taking input from external sources. What things help influence you to make a final purchase decision?

When you have a product purchasing decision to make, there are usually dozens of different makes and models to choose from. Trying to sort out the differences isn't always easy to do without taking input from external sources. What things help influence you to make a final purchase decision?

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Sometimes when you're doing product evaluations, you get lucky. There's one product that stands clearly above the others. Or there's only one solution, and you don't have to worry about competitive products.

Things are rarely that easy however. Usually there are two or three products that all meet similar specifications, fall in the same price range, and for all practical purpose are interchangeable. You need to be able to make a choice, and it's hard to justify a decision based on a simple coin toss.

Outside influencers

At that point, that's when it's helpful to get the opinion of others. There's always tons of people willing to give you their opinion. Some of your choices include:

  • Web site or magazine reviews
  • End-user reviews
  • Vendor information
  • Coworkers / Personal experience

Vendor Web sites, salesmen, and marketing material are obviously the most biased and often offer little additional information that helps make the case. Sometimes they offer comparisons against competitive products, but these are naturally skewed to favor their products. Anything you use from the vendor has to be viewed in that light.

Sites like TechRepublic and ZDNet offer various product reviews that, it goes without saying of course, are far superior to anything else in the industry (*cough cough*). We work hard on them and hope that you find them valuable. There's a perception sometimes that third-party sites carry an innate bias because most of the revenue comes from vendors advertising their products. Who's going to slam a large advertiser?

I don't know how other publishers work, but there's a wall here at TR between sales and editorial. There may be personal bias, but there's no institutional bias going on. However, I understand the perception. I've read plenty of articles in magazines where a product gets a five-star review, and you wonder what the reviewer was thinking because the product is utter... well.... not that good. And then you look to the right and see a full-page color ad for it. Convenient coincidence.

I like to check out reviews made on sites by end users. The most helpful ones I find are the negative reviews. Maybe it's just cynicism, but most of the time I assume that positive reviews are potentially just vendor plants. Negative ones help you see what potential problems you'll face if you purchase the product.

Finally, there's personal experience or coworker experience with a vendor. If two products are close in the objective specs and I have positive (or negative) experience with a vendor, that can make all the difference.

Where do you turn most to help make the logjam?

When you're trying to make the final decision, what is the biggest influence you turn to to help? Take the poll below and see where you compare to other TechRepublic members:

Unfortunately, you can pick only one, and you probably use a mix of them. Select one and then rank order the rest in Comments.

11 comments
nberigan
nberigan

My preferred method is "hands on." Buy one of each and return the loser as quickly as possible. The obstacle to this approach is that, as a purchaser, I don't have the control I need from the test units so that I can turn this stuff around in 30 days. I have MORE control of my own receiving/returning capacity so that, at least, I can take that duration down close to zero. But as to the idea that vendors don't like it? That's the way it goes.

Lost_in_NY
Lost_in_NY

Although I gather information from as many sources as can find, I put the most weight on any feedback I get from folks I already know and whose judgment I respect who have experience with the product in an evironment similar to mine. Of course if no one I know has used the product, I'd be relying most on user reviews from various forums, both positive and negative - can't say I'd weight one of those 2 choices more strongly since someone else's negatives (or positives for that matter) may not be relevant to what we need from the product.

Donald Barbas
Donald Barbas

Answers to these issues: Speed of operation. History of quality, service.Features, such as, built-in TV tuner, recording capability.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

With a Product. The Specifications are not the only thing to consider the Backup service if any is far more important than the actual Specs. If it's bad the item isn't worth sourcing from that vendor. Col

rasheed.adesokan
rasheed.adesokan

End Users Review (Not just positive reviews, but also negatives)

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

I also look at the positive as well. The reason I hit the negative first is to see what the complaints are. Typically, if it's minor, I don't even bother to look at the positive. However, if the complaints are serious, I like to look at the positive to see how they offset the negative. The biggest problem with positive reviews are the fanbois...blech... I'm tired of having to slog through 40 posts of "5 STAR!!! ++++++ GREAT SUPER WONDERFUL IF YOU DON'T BUY THIS YOU ARE STUPID ++++++" With that being said, I recently purchased some wireless headphones and I found out an interesting thing. A) Some people complain about things beyond the control of the product (eg My XBox produces a hissing sound when I use the head phones, but my PS3 doesn't), but blame the product. B) Some people post positive reviews because they refuse to be "wrong." (eg These are the best headphones ever, even though they always drop signal and have the battery life of a 1980's cell phone. All I did was buy a $300 power amp to up the signal and I bought new high end rechargeable batteries) C) Some people refuse to give a good review for a good product. (eg Product works as expected, but does nothing more, 2 stars) It's just too strange to look at some of the postings on products.

Jaqui
Jaqui

secondary level criteria. The must haves are met by the primary criteria with multiple products. use secondary levels, the "like to haves" still multiple options, then the "bonus to have" list. Problem is, for most major purchases, none even meet my number one MUST have criteria. bare metal, no os included. [ going by the options the major vendors have for the CONSUMER, after all, it's the cheapest way for them to put a system together and consumers are cheapskates ;) ]

bboyd
bboyd

They are hard earned, except the fanboi ones. Just need to toss out those outliers and a product I end up loving shows in the admiration of people who are secure enough to point out the realistic limitations. Not just spastic anger at a bad shipment or mediocre service. Articles and other supporting info might lead me to a product but rarely have the final "touch it in the store" information and feedback.

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

If you have to make a purchase and you have two or more items that match specs and pricing how do you decide? Outside influencers can be helpful, but which ones are best? I've put a poll up in Decision Central: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/decisioncentral/?p=163 Pick one from the list and see where you compare to other TR members. Because you probably use more than one of them and our poll tool limits the options, rank order the rest here in Comments.

JV711
JV711

web reviews and google search are a godsend. Why not read the words of a few dozen people who bought the product. This works well for new consumer equipment, in my opinion. But I hate websites like newegg or expedia that censor their reviews (try writing an overly critical one, then follow up on your own post weeks later if you don't believe me). For Enterprise IT equipment, however, nothing beats the 90 day demo.

somebozo
somebozo

fastest is not the bestest stability vendor support price vs performance of a given item.