There is software X, which is not a really well-known software, but it is unique and I find it very useful for our task in our department.

I've downloaded a trial version of the software and I have shown it him. He seemed satisfied, but did nothing.

The per-workstation (or per-user) license of the software is slightly below $100 (although they have a per-company license as well, which is many thousands of $).

I wrote him a mail, around so:

Subj: FYI

There is this tool which is very useful for our tasks about ... and ...


His answer was essentially this:

This is not a free [as in beer - M.S.] software, so delete it from your workstation!

I did it so, I deleted even the trial version even on the spot and answered this to him.

Now I think, maybe he doesn't know that next to the per-company license (which he probably won't invest for a simple department), there is also a per-workstation license which is far below the typical budget limits of a whole programming department (i.e. its price is around our daily wage).

I think I should write him a next mail, simply this:

Subject: FYI #2


Do you know, the per-workstation (or per-user) license of the ... is priced only around $80, and it can be buyed even from a VAT-capable reseller in our country (link #1, link #2)?


...but, if I write this to him, maybe he will think I try to command or control him. I think it is a very high danger, because he is the boss and not me.

I think the software would be very useful, but from the other side, it absolutely not deserves the risk that maybe he think I want to enforce anything for him.

There is also another problem: the department lived without this software since years. If we now buy this software, it would be like admitting that we worked on a highly ineffective way years long. Maybe it can be also a problem, even from the side of the boss, or from the side of my collegues (most of them are working much longer here, as me, and they are also much older, and they are also native in this country while I am a foreigner).

What to do? Is it better to let this as it is, or maybe there is a super-polite version of this "FYI #2" mail, which very clearly avoids that it would be seem as a try to control?

  • is this licence a one off payment, or is it $80 a year? What is your position/seniority at the company?
    – Kilisi
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 16:01
  • Is the "free" software a political stand ? (i.e. FSF vs. Commercial) ? Is there an OpenSource version of that software ?
    – Max
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 16:32
  • 1
    see stackoverflow.com/questions/2298308/business-case-for-resharper for additional ideas.
    – mcknz
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 16:59
  • @Kilisi New, young member. :-) It is one off. Pro workstation license around 80, or pro user also around 80. The pro company license is only very costly, many thousands $.
    – Gray Sheep
    Commented Apr 19, 2016 at 0:27
  • 2
    Sounds like he has a policy of not using outside software that has any restrictions or costs $$. You don't have the seniority (in my opinion) to go against this.
    – Kilisi
    Commented Apr 19, 2016 at 0:31

3 Answers 3


Your boss is not interested in this software. He is interested in your productivity. And you have in no way given him anything to think about.

Right now, the software would produce costs. Full stop. End of story.

So why would he be interested in this software?

You need to present him a business case where this software actually has an advantage. This advantage might be obvious to you, but it's not to him.

Write up why this software would be worth using. If you do procedure X twice a week for an hour and that software helps you doing it in half an hour, that is one hour gained per week. That's about 50 hours per year. If the license is 80$ per year, that's 50 hours for 80$. That's pretty cheap. That's something he gets for the 80$. This is what you need to present: what he gets from doing it.

If you do it by mail or personally is a matter of style. Sometimes, tables and calculations are better provided on paper or email rather then verbally. What matters is that you can produce these numbers. Show him what he gains.

  • 2
    In addition there may be unseen internal costs and work involved for the manager, if it's a domain then admin may need to get involved playing with firewalls and security, the manager may need to seek approval from elsewhere etc,. plus of course the section budget angle, all for something they've never needed before.
    – Kilisi
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 16:37
  • I feel as if he would communicate to me in your account :-)
    – Gray Sheep
    Commented Apr 19, 2016 at 7:32
  • One problem with adding tools is it needs support. If the tool stops working, people become stupid, and they also stop working, even though they used to be able to do said work without the tool before.
    – Nelson
    Commented Nov 9, 2016 at 8:09
  • Isn't that obvious that this software would raise productivity? Does OP really needs to present a dissertation to his boss?
    – SpongeBob
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 21:40
  • @Fernando If it were obvious to his boss, they would have used said software for years. And a 10 sentence email is hardly a dissertation.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 8:04

This is the sort of thing that should be brought up face to face with your boss in private. When the opportunity presents itself say something like "Regarding software X, I was surprised that the department wouldn't be interested given the per workstation license is $80. It should pay for itself in time savings quite quickly." This allows for the boss to admit not fully reading the costs or that the current tool is politically entrenched or that they are in the process of negotiating a company wide license or... whatever the reality is provided they are willing to share it with you.

Email runs risk of tone being misread so face to face is much better.


You showed him the software but then you had inform him "there is a tool"?
You installed a commercial version in addition to the trial version?
If you installed a non paid commercial version then your boss should be upset.
Even trial license may not be good for production use.
You should have informed him up front you wanted to do an eval.

Maybe just let it go unless he gets back to you or try something like this

Confirming I deleted the software

It would aid in the following: a) ... b) ...

Cost / time saving estimate ...

Cost is $/workstation or $ for site license

Web site

Please consider purchasing the software

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