In February 2009, I was contacted by a potential client, who was opening a law office. I recommended that he purchase case management software, Adobe Acrobat Professional and a scanner; he also needed time and billing software. Because he was just starting and wanted to focus on the time and billing software, I explained that the ideal product for him was one I did not support and offered to refer him to another consultant who is an expert on that product. He declined. Instead, at the recommendation of friends, he purchased a time and billing product from that is designed for mid- to large-sized law firms, even though I explained it really wasn’t for him. He insisted, and I processed the sale.
Now, roughly 18 months later, he has contacted me again. The software he bought, he discovered, isn’t right for him and he isn’t using it. Instead, he wants to know what I know about another product, recommended by his IT person. I don’t know much about the product, except that it probably isn’t right for him, but he wants it because his IT consultant – who does hardware and networks, not legal technology – has used it. He’s headed for more wasted money, at least if history repeats, as DeToqueville has reminded us.
I say it to clients, I say it in lectures, and I’ll say it here. Don’t buy software because your friends like it. That doesn’t mean it will work for you.
Don’t buy software because your IT person likes it. That doesn’t mean it will work for you.
Figure out what you need, then evaluate the products, and then make a decision. If, after that process, your friend or your IT person’s product is the right one – Great. But if not, buy what you need. That’s why we try on clothes, they may look great in a magazine, but not so hot on us.