Trying software before you sign up is a time worn and effective way to test the features and the usability of software as a service.
Many services offer a limited FREE version of their software. Some offer limited time FULL versions. Either way you should check out what TRIALS of the service are available. Sign up for them – only when you are READY to spent time checking the service out.
Personally, I tend to avoid limited time or short duration trials. Why? Because most of the time I just don’t have time to put into the product or service until I’m ready – which is usually AFTER the expiration of the trial.
I like trials that offer up a limited number of files, transactions, etc. because this gives me the ability to TEST the product in a full feature set and take as long as I’d like to.
When you think that you might be centering a major part of your business’ information processing around a service like this – you might want to choose a more in depth “try before you buy” approach.
For instance, if you are going to buy a new CRM, you probably want to do some solid, live fire testing with real data, with all the features.
Why? It’ll show any issues and poor fit areas of the service. For this reason, when I’m ready, I’ll usually try to buy a MONTH or two of full service with a limited number of accounts.
For instance, we maintain and have a separate sub-domain that we use for TESTING services with 5 users before we buy and install anything in our larger accounts or before making a longer term commitment.
If you can afford it – LIVE Testing is best.
Be sure you insert a testing process, and TRIAL into your thinking when looking into buying large, wide scope, major services. Knowing more about the strengths and weaknesses of software before you commit long term or very wide scope is worth quite a bit. Don’t be afraid to spend a little to get much more information.