How to use free trials
The best point to consider free trials or evaluation licences is during the later stages of your asset management software selection process. (Watch video on how to compare asset management software)
Evaluation or free trials should be used to complement your decision making, rather than as a starting point in your selection process.
The tendency to try out free trials at the start is completely understandable. In most cases, free trials just give an idea of the interface or usability, which can be easily understood by looking at product demos or product images.
The pitfall of trying out software early in the process is you may miss the overall impact of your software choice and focus purely on user level requirements. Just FYI – there are three types of requirements; business, user level and technical. (Read our article to map your asset management software requirements). There is a risk that you may bypass business and technical requirements completely.
It is highly recommended to map out and quantify your requirements first; this will set the scene for the necessary management/budgetary approvals. (Otherwise the whole exercise can become a loosely managed purchasing decision; somebody’s neck is always on the line…)
1. Usability – Ease of navigation, ability to spot data quickly, user friendliness of the reporting capabilities, and data flow between different windows are the key areas to evaluate
2. Implementation – How closely your current workflows can be adopted by the software. Better still, can the software enhance your current workflows, is it easy to upload data and, most importantly, how easy is it to change workflows in the software? (Review Usability and Implementation of UK based asset management software)
3. Support – Call the support teams during the trial to get an idea of the quality and response time to resolve support issues
4. Make notes whilst evaluating the software, understanding the above areas will help you to ask detailed questions of the vendors before finalising your decision. (This is almost the biggest takeaway of conducting free trials.)
The more familiar you are with the software before making the purchase decision, the better it is to implement and use.
Ideally, free trials should be done with two vendors (three if you are really keen). You also want the trials to be done simultaneously with the same user (not you, but under your supervision).
The trials should be mapped out and should not last more than two weeks, i.e. before you start your free trial, you should have your data ready and also have a clear understanding of exactly what you are trialling the software for.
Resource and time should be allocated for the free trial (preferably somebody who has been in your business for three years or more)
Feedback and discussion meetings to review trial progress should be planned.
Every Asset Management Success.