Why electronic research administration software reviews can be misleading

By December 20, 2022 September 6th, 2023 No Comments
Best eRA SaaS directories pay to play 1

We’re in the business of helping research administrators, and we receive a lot of email about other software aimed at research administrators. Some of the most memorable emails we receive don’t come from the software companies themselves. They come from ‘independent’ companies that deliver reports on the software market.

Specifically intriguing to us are the ones that report on the merits of eRA (electronic research administration) systems, because this is our core software offering. What always piques our interest is that these emails originate from sources that present themselves as the foremost experts.

These companies claim to have a full understanding of all eRA systems on the market. And then they proceed to explain which one they perceive as the “best” or the “most trusted.” Often, their analysis includes an official-looking comparison report that gives a detailed breakdown, typically with one eRA system highlighted in much more detail than the rest.

For the most part, you won’t find Streamlyne mentioned anywhere on these types of research administration software reviews. And it’s not because we don’t make the best software. There’s another more nefarious reason.

Who runs the “best of” reports for research administration software reviews? What is their motive?

Let us let you in on a secret. Like pop radio in the 1950’s, many of these small reporting companies are pay-to-play. Meaning, their business model subsists solely or primarily on advertising disguised in the form of glowing reviews. We know this because we’ve talked with them. We’ve asked for an even and fair evaluation of Streamlyne along with the other companies covered. We know how Streamlyne stacks up, and we will go head to head with any competitor, so we welcome the challenge every time.

And you know what? Every time, we were welcomed to participate, to be reviewed in comparison guides, or to receive salivating reviews in some cases. IF we paid for the privilege. Guess what we said? A resounding no.

Why we don’t play that game

Of course, we want to be known as “the best” in as many places as possible, because we’re confident our software is the gold standard for research administrators. Our users tell us constantly how much they love it, and our ever-increasing number of customers speaks for itself. These are universities that have done their research, have held us up to the highest scrutiny, and then ultimately choose Streamlyne to support their research program. These are the kinds of research administration software reviews that hold the most weight.

So why wouldn’t we agree to be in questionable review sites for a price? Because it’s not who we are. We want our new customers to connect with us authentically. Not because we had someone shill for us, essentially as a paid spokesperson, while presenting otherwise. This would be a disservice, and those who engage and support these sham businesses reflect poorly on our industry.

More reasons why stealthy review sites are problematic

Well, for one reason, some of our competitors will use these reports as statements of fact. They will post “best” or “five-star review” in their materials as if it means something. And to someone not familiar with this tactic, it does look impressive. But the real test of excellence is in the software itself. Not the cash grabbers hanging on to the periphery of this industry, posing as legitimate evaluators of quality. There are also issues with the ethics, and in some cases the legality, of presenting a paid endorsement as unbiased.

Of course, there are many reputable sources that cover the software industry and help provide unbiased reviews. These include Gartner, the Tambellini group and other reputable analyst firms. There are also platforms such as TrustPilot or G2 where users leave their feedback, based on actual experience. These kinds of resources can be helpful and informative when it comes to making a decision. But the self-serving companies (sometimes one-person operations) that exist just to make money, in exchange for reviews, are a noise and a distraction.

Where to find good information about eRA software vendors

Rest assured, you’re not on your own when it comes to evaluating eRA software vendors like Streamlyne. You have a lot of good resources available to you. In fact, we recently published our own guide to evaluating eRA software vendors, which you can download right from our website. This guide contains ten questions to ask during the vetting process, which range from technical considerations to inquiries about ongoing support. We created this guide so those seeking better software for their research program can be fully informed. It is one way we are able to help, proactively, so that we have engaged discussions with our potential customers. We also worked to make this guide as unbiased as possible. This way, it can be a helpful tool when looking into any type of software vendor, not just ones aimed specifically at research administration.

How to take the next steps

As a research administrator, you are likely looking to adopt the best software, and not stay with an old vendor that doesn’t serve your needs. If you are open to better software, ultimately, you will learn more by speaking with a software company than from an official-looking “best-of” type list. Get to know the individuals within the company, how they operate, and the types of thinking that has gone into the software developed. Do they truly understand your needs as a research administrator? Does their offering answer to all the challenges across the research administration lifecycle? Will they provide excellent support and partnership for years to come? If the answer to these questions is “yes,” then you are in the right hands.

To schedule a customized demo for any of our Streamlyne products, including Streamlyne Research (lifecycle and program management), FundFit (funding procurement and team matching) and Analytics (data modeling and benchmarking), please visit our demo request page.