I was doing a Google search today for “SharePoint development companies in India” and could see over 900 search engine results. That’s huge! As a normal user of search, if I were my client, I would be looking at the top 20 or max 40 results and then start my filtering process. I would evaluate a few things and then finalize upon a vendor. As I step out of myself, I see a lot of things are flawed in my approach. And I am sure a hundred others like me would be making these mistakes while using Google search to select vendors.
Buried prejudice and biases are surprisingly influential to all the decisions we make, affecting our emotions and consequently actions. And there are times when not recognizing this influence on your choices and decisions can do more harm than good. Let us understand what biases you when you are searching for anything, vendors, partners, options to shop online and so on.
Top Result Bias: Everyone loves being at the top. Everyone loves talking to them who are at the top. Just being at the top of search results does not necessarily mean being the best vendor who suits your needs totally. However normally there is a ‘top bias’ which affects you as you go from page-1 to page-2 and more in search results. You tend to look at page-1 guys more keenly and then take a quick glance at page-2 and still reducing attention on companies further down. Give it a brutal pause. Let’s understand why – You might be looking for a design agency or a software development firm or a chartered accountant. Expecting the best CA to be on the top of search means you expect him to do search engine optimization to be the best in that area. Expecting the best design agency to be on top means you want him to have solid expertise in digital marketing too. But seriously, are you looking for marketing experts or you are looking for good software developers, designers and accountants?
How to remove the bias: Once you do a search, copy 5 pages of search results to an excel sheet and remove everything other than the website address. Sort up that list in ascending or descending order alphabetically and then go one by one. Poof! Bias gone. (You might say why do I pick “top” 5 pages then – You may not if you have all the time in the world to evaluate more.)
Awesome Design Bias: If you are looking for a designer, definitely you should evaluate him on the design. However if you are looking for a content writer or a software development house or something else where design is not the core-expertise needed – for example – you have auto-claim adjudication module in mainframes which need to be written – How does it matter if the website does not have a 2.0 design? (You might justify yourself that a web 2.0 design means the company is doing well but I would rather test the capability of the developers rather than live on hunches!)
How to remove the bias: Not most people are design savvy and on top of it – ‘design’ or rather lets call it ‘aesthetic sense’ is subjective. A thin blood-red line on a matte-finish black background header might appeal to you while it may not appeal to a thousand others. If you are evaluating the vendor for his software development skills on the web platform, it makes total sense to validate his website for CSS, HTML issues and to see if he is able to use AJAX/jQuery well. For all you know, the team that is involved in client work may not be the one which is maintaining the vendor’s website! Remove the bias and speak to the development team and judge them by the work they actually have done.
Then there are other biases – Response bias, Communication Skills bias and so on where you as the client feel that if the sales person is good means the development team is good too. Or if the sales person in touch with you can communicate effectively with you means the team can do that as well. Wrong. It is always advisable to take up a short risk free trial and work with the actual developers (if you have a long project which needs a relationship over a long period of time). This will ensure you get to know what you will get.
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