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Can’t Make Business Decisions Fast Enough? Here’s a Shortcut

Which candidate is the best person for a key position? Does a proposed partnership really make sense? Which health plans are most appropriate for the upcoming fiscal year? What supplier is best-equipped to provide a specialty component? Should you hire another dedicated person for customer service?

Businesses face literally dozens of decisions, both large and small, every workday. Yet very few companies espouse best practices for coming up with the answers, leaving it up to individual managers to reinvent the wheel every time a decision needs to be made. That can make for hours of circular debate and endless email threads—ones that may or may not include everyone who really should have a stake in the outcome.

Software startup Cloverpop, founded and helmed by former Adobe Systems (ADBE) product manager Erik Larson, proposes an alternative approach—in the form of a software application that provides structure for the decision-making process. Larson’s descriptive term for this is “guided collaboration.” He noted: “The point is to involve the best people, come up with the best choices, and then come to a conclusion.”

Cloverpop’s software structures the decision-making process by creating a series of questions associated with day-to-day situations, such as what factors would dictate which two finalists for an open position is likely to be the better hire. The software prioritizes group responses and highlights where the majority of a team is leaning, similar to an online poll. It also organizes feedback thematically so that a manager can consider the pros and cons of each side at a glance, rather than wading through email message threads.

According to Larson, Cloverpop’s software can also dramatically compress the amount of time it takes to make a decision—from days to a matter of hours.

Michael Fauscette, group vice president and software research specialist with IDC, said Cloverpop’s approach is unusual because of the simple way in which it structures important data related to specific decisions. “This holds it all together,” he said. “I think they have something unique and that will be valuable for doing this in a predictive, repeatable way.”

Since Cloverpop disclosed its seed funding of $1.8 million in early October (led by True Ventures and TDF Ventures) the San Francisco company has signed up more than 1,400 companies for a broader test of its software. It is still accepting preview requests, a spokeswoman said.

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