Have you ever joined a local gym, only to see a whole year go by and you barely stepped foot in the place? Do you go and ask for a refund for the whole year's membership you left unused? Maybe you do. Most gyms would just laugh at you for even asking. Why? Because, well, it's not their problem you didn't attend. You agreed to a membership and then want a refund just because you failed to use the facilities.  

Nobody wants to pay for something they're not using
A similar example to the one above is where we have seen a business sign up for an online software product. They paid for it, haven't attempted to use it and after a year ask for a refund. We understand that nobody wants to be paying for something that they're not using. But, depending on how much time has passed and whether issues have been communicated [much of the onus will be on the customer who failed to make use of the product]. This is one of the reasons why software trials, and making the most of them are important. It's also one of the reasons why we also recommend engaging with a reputable consultant who can steer you towards the right solution. 

Are you the right person to be trialling a new system?
The main way to determine if you are the right person is to ask yourself a couple of simple questions. Will I be the one using the system? Am I the only person to be using the system? Do I really know what is required of the system to adequately suit the needs of the business? If you aren't going to be using the system day-to-day, how do you actually know what is required? If there are other key persons in the team who will be using it every day, they should be a part of the decision making process. The right people need to be involved in this task, as the wrong people may make decisions that aren't based on the best interests of the business. This may mean a decision is based on attributes such as the product's price or locality, rather than overall suitability. 

Making an informed decision
Free software trials help you make a more informed decision. You may know what you want - to save time, save money, and go home earlier on a Friday. But you may not know what you actually need in a software product to get you there. There's been plenty of times when we've heard someone say that they'll take up such-and-such software because their friend (who has a completely different business) thinks it's great. Maybe it is for them, but it might not be right for you. Every business is unique. You don't want to sign up and jump into a system without knowing what you're buying and if it's what you need. Commit to the trial, check out review sites such as Capterra, and ask industry contacts or consultants for the low-down. 

Do you have the time to really delve into the system?
If it's a busy time for you and the team at the moment and you don't have time to specifically allocate to test out the system, you'll make no headway. Software trials are time-limited, usually 14 to 30 days for you to do your due diligence and testing. You don't want to be making a snap decision and choose a product that does not cater to the needs of the business. If you find you still need more time, you can ask for a trial extension. You may be granted one, but it's up to the discretion of the software company. What we don't like to see is when an extension has been asked for, but no effort has been made to log in and test out the system. The software company would love you to adopt their program, but they too have bills to pay. Just having a trial file setup for you can cost the software company money.
Make use of resources
Before or during the trial make use of resources that the software vendor provides. These can include:

  • Watch any videos, read any resources that they have to offer about their product
  • Participate in any webinars they are hosting
  • Schedule a demo
  • Ask them questions

Importantly, take the time to make a list of all the features you are requiring of the product and ask them to clarify if they and their software can deliver. It can be tempting to go it alone because you don't want the whole sales spiel that some companies provide. But you don't know what you don't know. Talking with software vendors can not only shed some light on the system but save you time trying to get the answers yourself. They'll hopefully give you helpful tips, highlight powerful features, and hopefully introduce you to customer support. 

Ensure you commit  to making the most of your free trial. It may be easy to let it slide because in the end it was granted to you for free. But there are no guarantees that you'll get an extension. And why waste this time given to really get a look into a possible solution. Making sure you include other team members could help make the decision process easier. Take the time to be a sponge and absorb up all the resources and most importantly  ask questions. 

If you're having trouble with deciding on whether a software platform is right fit for you, we'd love to help. Get in contact today! 


The Author - Paula King

Paula is the administration and content manager at Integration Kings. With a university degree in journalism and a keen aptitude for researching, she strives to make sense of complex and technical concepts and create easy to understand content.