Why I Don’t Do Product Reviews Here (or Anywhere Else)

Last week, I made a post about why you won’t get product reviews for our laboratory informatics industry by doing an internet search which led a couple people to tell me I should start a service/web-site like that. Over the years, people keep asking me why I don’t create a laboratory informatics product review web-site. After all, I keep pointing-out the need for something where we can compare products for LIMS, ELN, SDMS, and the like. I always tell people flat-out that I’m not going to do it. Here’s why…

I Don’t Think I Could do it in a Useful Manner
There are so many products out there that I don’t think it’s possible for one person to create any meaningful review of them in order to compare them. In addition, it’s not possible to just get your hands on these products to review them. When a single license for a product can go into five digits, financing that kind of project would be prohibitive. Of course, that assumes that software vendors would be willing to sell a license for this purpose and some won’t be willing to do that.

The alternative is that I create some kind of web-site and encourage others to do the reviews. As I’ve mentioned so many times, our industry is relatively small. I can’t see how it’s possible to get enough of a cross-section of reviews from people to cover the products in our industry in a meaningful way. That, combined with the fact that people tend to be reluctant to review the products.

I Don’t Want to Do it and Don’t Have Time
My time is spent primarily on these things:

  1. Providing services to my customers (this is what pays the bills).
  2. Sales and marketing (this is what gets customers to realize they should work with me so that I can get customers to provide services to in order to pay the bills).
  3. General activities required to run the business (computer maintenance, etc…, all  the tedious things it takes to keep the office running so that items (1) and (2) can happen).

While I do occasionally let myself become distracted with other things, such as starting professional groups for the industry, giving my time to magazines and conferences, and other time and money pit activities (those things that don’t bring revenue but make you feel like a good human being and too easily suck you further in than you should be), like anyone else, my time is limited and I need to spend the bulk of it actually on these three activities. If I don’t, my business will fail and I will not have the money to do the crazy and elaborate things I love to do (e.g., pay the mortgage, eat, and occasionally take a modest vacation). Thus, I continue to turn down this idea of starting something so elaborate and time-consuming.

To those who claim it would be easy (because there are so many great tools and so many people would help and), it’s not. I’ll leave it at that.

On top of all of that, every business has to identify its core business. Mine is providing excellent services, focused on business analysis, LabWare LIMS expertise, and similar services. There’s nothing in there about creating web-sites and doing product reviews. Even when I occasionally work with customers on the product selection activity, we look at some relatively small group of products, appropriate to that customers industry, needs, size, and other requirements.

Bottom Line
Over the years, I’ve said “no” to this and will continue to refuse it for these reasons. If anyone else has that kind of time, I wish you the best. But let me be clearer on this: doing this task is more than just creating some shell for people to fill in. That’s worthless because if you don’t find a way to get people to fill it in and make it useful it’s no better than what we currently have. It’s some amount of work to create that shell but the hardest part is getting the reviews. Without those, it’s still nothing.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises

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