Thursday, January 24, 2008

CPA Technology Advisor should stop reviewing software

I got an email yesterday reminding me that the latest CPA Technology Advisor review is out. For anyone with a short attention span, I'll give you my two quick conclusions right up front. One - it's useless crap. Two - it at least appears to be unbiased useless crap.

This is the the High-End Accounting Systems review that CPA Technology Advisor puts out each December. Last year this review was written by a top Sage partner, a partner that sold more than $1 million worth of Sage products during the year. The two products carried by that partner got perfect scores, everything else scored lower. Surprise, surprise. So this year I grabbed a couple of aspirin before I followed the link.

I'm immediately pleased by one thing. As far as I can tell from a quick bit of research the author of this study, one M. Darren Root (CPA.CITP), does not appear to have sold more than $1 million of any particular software product last year. That's encouraging. Though I'm slightly troubled by the fact that this appears to be the first bit that he has ever written for the publication. Then again, that could be a good thing. I'm so conflicted.

Mr Root reviews four products this year. Two are from Sage - Accpac and MAS500, and two from Microsoft - GP and NAV. The two Sage products got perfect scores last year. Surely scoring them something less than perfect this year would require quite an explanation. The products would not have regressed during the year (we are talking about Sage here, so I may not completely rule that out). No, they both get perfect scores again.

Here's the good news. By removing the pro-Sage, anti-Microsoft bias in the person of the reviewer, GP and NAV now also get perfect scores. Unlike last year, the review is not written by Sage partners for Sage partners. It's not a Sage sales tool masquerading as an independent product review.

What is it then? We've got four products and four perfect scores. Am I the only one struggling to see the point. I'd Imagine the two vendors are pleased with themselves. I also imagine CPA Technology Advisor is quite happy with itself. Say only positive things about the vendors and they will happily point people to the review. It's great for web traffic. I suppose it would be just far too cynical of me to point out that CPA Technology Advisor has ads all over the review page. That doesn't mean anything, does it?

Presumably the review could be used by Microsoft and Sage resellers in situations where their competitors did not make the list. That would probably work, but you should understand that the four on the list on not necessarily there because they are the top four products. An earlier CPA Technology Advisor review of mid-range systems was missing both Microsoft Dynamics and SAP Business One. Per the author, CPA Technology Advisor sends out review requests to a number of vendors. If they vendor doesn't respond, the product can't be reviewed. Simple enough.

At the end of the day this is really just a glorified marketing piece and is worth almost nothing when it comes to evaluating software in this space. SAP, NetSuite, and others were not included in the review. I'll be you a nickel that none of them would have scored lower than a 4.5 if they had answered CPA Technology Advisor's request and been in this review.

The one thing I'm sure of is that desperate for good news Sage will push this review. But then again, they are not too discerning about this kind of thing. Case in point, can you believe this ridiculous "review" is still on the front page of

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