IBM i third-party software is like a fast car. You want to test-drive it before you buy it.
Even when you’ve thoroughly researched the package, there’s still nothing like loading the software up and running it through its paces. You wouldn’t plunk down $35K+ for a new car without getting behind the wheel. Why wouldn’t you do the same thing with a new software package?
The trick to demoing IBM i software is to plan your evaluation period. Vendor downloads are limited time deals, usually good for anywhere between 15 to 90 days. That isn’t much time to waste before a demo package stops working on your system.
Given that, here are four strategies that will help you better evaluate IBM i evaluation software.
Tip #1: Plan your evaluation and possible purchase
Don’t plan a demo download for busy periods. Don’t test during the holiday season, if your organization is retail-based or when critical people are on vacation. Customers often download demo software and never test it, simply because they’re too busy.
Consider whether you’re ready to buy if the product meets your needs and you want the software. If you’re demoing-to-own, start lining up approvers and determine when you’ll have funds to move forward.
Treat demo testing like any other project and create a download project in your project management system. Make sure you have an available, involved resource ready for testing and that testing is a priority.
Have the tester create a test plan or a checklist specific to your needs, before activating the software. Also ask the vendor to get the complete product manual before you start. Many products need a customer login for software manual access, getting a login can affect your testing window.
Tip #2: Demo your vendor
Be sure to test the vendor’s support along with their software. Make sure the vendor’s customer service department knows you’re evaluating the software and that tech support will take your calls during the evaluation period.
Place a few tech support calls and see how they handle your questions. Good (or bad) tech support can affect a successful implementation just as much as the software itself.
Tip #3: Installing ahead of buying
You may download evaluation software to start implementing a planned project before buying. People do this when they’re ready to buy but the purchase authorization can take a few weeks.
When demoing-to-own, make sure the evaluation copy is the full vendor package and not a stripped down demo version. After they get paid, the vendor will give you a permanent key to replace the temporary key you’ve been using.
Tip #4: Extending your demo
The trickiest part to evaluating demo software happens if the evaluation period expires and you need more test time. If you’re seriously evaluating the package, most vendors will extend your demo period.
The vendor’s rep may ask some additional qualifying questions to see if you’re serious about buying the software. And they may only grant you one testing extension before they ask for a buying decision.
Trying before buying
It isn’t that difficult to download and evaluate new IBM i software. As I said before, the trick is planning your demo period to get the most out of the download project and insure the software meets your needs.
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