Why trialling a system isn’t a good use of your time

Image for Kate Vincent By Kate Vincent

When you’re looking to introduce a new project management platform into your agency, it might seem an obvious path to try out a few different systems. Indeed, some systems even offer a ‘download demo here’ option straight from the website. But is this really an effective part of the buying process? Or are you adding confusion rather than creating clarity to your decision process?

Agencies are all unique places. It’s what makes them so great. There isn’t an off-the-shelf solution which will work across them all. And what will work for one agency, will just keep another ticking over exactly as they are. The best systems are bespoke, working directly with your business aspirations, improving your workflows, managing your KPIs… and a trial simply won’t show you how it’ll achieve this.

If you’re looking at various systems and downloading multiple trials, the chances are you’ll just end up feeling confused and overwhelmed. A trial demo is simply a generic interface. Even if there are custom availabilities or specific reporting objectives, they won’t be easily accessible without the proper guidance.

The reporting output will also be meaningless. How can you sense check your reporting objectives from a system that carries dummy data which bears no resemblance to your reality?

Any sales consultant worth their salt would shy away from offering a trial system without giving you some initial guidance and at the very least some basic user training. because let’s face it ‘you only know what you know.’ Without a tour of key capabilities, measured against your requirements and objectives, it’s virtually impossible to make an informed choice about whether the system is right for you and your agency.

But I wouldn’t buy a car without taking it on a test drive…

True. But you wouldn’t go leave the forecourt without passing your driving test. The subtle difference is that you know how to drive, you’ve gone through a rigorous training programme and received your licence. Even if you’re test driving a different make and model, you’ve had some training.

Trialling a system with no training is like getting behind the wheel of a car for the very first time. And when you’re looking at an end-to-end system, not a plug-and-play, it can feel somewhat overwhelming.

You’ve established clear goals, worked out what you need from a system and how you can use the data to make informed decisions. Then you take a trial. Ooh, there’s another feature, could we use this? How about incorporating that as well? And these features can be myriad. You’ll end up going down a very long rabbit hole and losing sight of what you wanted to achieve in the first place.

You need to identify your goals, pains and requirements and find a system which can tailor to these. Not try to match your needs with what’s being offered. That’s not to say you can’t have a list of ‘nice-to-haves’, but nice to haves won’t run your agency! Nail down your key objectives. Make your initial enquiries and conduct discovery demos that address them. Then introduce aspirational features, but don’t let them detract from your focus.

Putting trials in their place…

In summary: there is a place for trial systems, but only at the very end of the process, when you’ve pinned down which system you want to use. A final sense check that access to the system works properly, for example, or for that final reassurance to ensure you don’t have buyer remorse. Don’t use a trial as a compare-and-contrast, or an ongoing play around for new features.

The right system will work for you. Putting it on trial simply creates more questions and unnecessary complexities. Doing your due diligence upfront to establish what you need and working out how to achieve it is what will really pay off long term.

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