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It seems like a lot of my clients get roped into buying less-than-adequate enterprise software then dumping it on us (as consultants) to implement. I've seen some of these slick vendor demos where they show off a heavily customized demo app and pass it off as an off-the-shelf solution that does exactly what you need while cleverly hiding the fact that it took thousands of developer hours to build and conveniently ignoring the operational gotchas that will cost you a fortune in maintenance even after you pay them for licenses.

I know of sites like Gartner and Real Story Group that will sell you an expert analysis, but I'm looking for a site more like Stack Exchange or Yelp where developers, users, admins, etc give honest feedback on the quality of commercial software and maybe give some insight into pricing and value. Does such a thing exist?

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In case you were living under a rock for the past 20 years let me clue you in, this is the Modus Operandi of the industry. A big portion of the industry and a LOT of software jobs are riding on these large enterprise software suites. Sometimes it was a poor choice, other times there is a LOT of money to spend and they WANT IT based on the name recognition alone. Appearances drive the industry and a lot of times people make money and obtain investment capital by spending BIG on cumbersome enterprise software suites and unnecessarily large development teams. –  maple_shaft Jun 6 '11 at 14:43
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Yeah, that's why I am asking this question. I want to knock them back to earth. There is, believe it or not, good enterprise software out there and I want them to set the standard and raise the bar for the companies who specialize in sales first and technology last. –  jiggy Jun 6 '11 at 15:18
    
Speaking as a part-time cynic, why bother? Enterprise solutions are not sold to the sort of people who hang out on programmers.se, but levels of management up from there, and generally they don't pay attention to us. –  David Thornley Jun 6 '11 at 21:23
    
@David, Maybe they would if it gained enough traction! Aside from vendor evaluation being done by the wrong people, it is frequently done by the right people without enough information. Vendors win due to information assymetry. –  jiggy Jun 6 '11 at 22:50
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1 Answer

This is a very tough problem to solve as these kinds of decisions can be made by a multitude of different factors. I am going to attempt to answer it to the best of my ability.

Many times these bloated and expensive enterprise suites are purchased with minimal involvement by technically oriented personel on the team. Sales demonstrations and demo apps are tools to sell the idea to the functional managers and stakeholders of the project or company.

This problem occurs when the functional managers are given too much power or voice, or technical personel are not given enough. This comes full circle to my previous comment that this may be purposeful but that is another topic of discussion.

Technical involvement and evaluation COULD minimize this problem.

In regards to your idea about a good evaluation site of commercial software it would be EXTREMELY HARD to set such a site up in an UNBIASED or pure way.

Technical evaluations that PRAISE one product over another are worth a LOT of money and an influx of money by concerned parties would put pressure and strain on such a site to stay biased. As if this weren't enough, there are a number of different online services that hire people to put up fake blogs and fake "grassroots" product evaluations that makes identifying TRUELY UNBIASED ratings hard to do. Pay-per-post companies hire people to flood artificial popular opinion on a number of different sites as well.

And yet still, ANOTHER problem you would have to contend with are potential legal liabilities and challenges from companies that own products that received BAD reviews, claiming slanderous falsehoods and loss of business. Many companies (cough Computer Associates) have armies of lawyers that do just that.

These are probably a number of issues why such a site would be hard to run.

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All valid points. I think the StackExchange engine can handle phony opinions with reputation. The legal issue is what I was concerned about. I can't imagine what grounds they would have to sue for honest criticism. I think you could fight it with a name and shame. That or we reserve a special rating below 0 for companies unwilling to brook criticism. –  jiggy Jun 6 '11 at 17:13
    
"That or we reserve a special rating below 0 for companies unwilling to brook criticism" again another slanderous lie </devilsadvocate>. What grounds did corporations have that granted corporations are people and protected by free speech in Citizens United? The grounds are money, dirty dirty money and they have a lot of it. –  maple_shaft Jun 6 '11 at 17:23
    
They don't have to win in court, they don't even have to have anything remotely resembling a case. They will crush you in legal fees the way the US crushed the Soviet Union by outspending. –  maple_shaft Jun 6 '11 at 17:25
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