IT consultants, salesmanship and the challenges of packaged software selection in SMEs

Howcroft, Debra & Light, Ben (2008) IT consultants, salesmanship and the challenges of packaged software selection in SMEs. Journal of Enterprise Information Management, 21(6), pp. 597-615.

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– This paper seeks to analyse the process of packaged software selection in a small organization, focussing particularly on the role of IT consultants as intermediaries in the process.


– This is based upon a longitudinal, qualitative field study concerning the adoption of a customer relationship management package in an SME management consultancy.


– The authors illustrate how the process of “salesmanship”, an activity directed by the vendor/consultant and focussed on the interests of senior management, marginalises user needs and ultimately secures the procurement of the software package.

Research limitations/implications

– Despite the best intentions the authors lose something of the rich detail of the lived experience of technology in presenting the case study as a linear narrative. Specifically, the authors have been unable to do justice to the complexity of the multifarious ways in which individual perceptions of the project were influenced and shaped by the opinions of others.

Practical implications

– Practitioners, particularly those from within SMEs, should be made aware of the ways in which external parties may have a vested interest in steering projects in a particular direction, which may not necessarily align with their own interests.


– This study highlights in detail the role of consultants and vendors in software selection processes, an area which has received minimal attention to date. Prior work in this area emphasises the necessary conditions for, and positive outcomes of, appointing external parties in an SME context, with only limited attention being paid to the potential problems such engagements may bring.

Impact and interest:

8 citations in Scopus
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ID Code: 75717
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 1741-0398
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA STUDIES (200100)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Deposited On: 02 Oct 2014 01:30
Last Modified: 27 Jul 2016 00:10

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