When it comes to new software for your business, it's always worth taking a trial run before making a purchase. In this post, we are going to explore some of the key steps to help you plan a smooth and efficient trial.
When it comes to new software for your business, it's always worth taking a trial run before making a purchase. Doing so will mean you have an opportunity to evaluate whether the solution meets your needs before committing budget. However, if you go into a trial without a plan, you might end up wasting your own time as well as the time of your employees and the software provider.
With a little planning, you can ensure that your software trials are productive and informative, helping you make better decisions for your business.
Over the past few years, we have seen businesses approach trials of our software in several different ways. In this post, we are going to explore some of the key steps to help you plan a smooth and efficient trial.
So you've found an exciting new research technology and you want to know whether it will work for your business. Before committing to a trial and asking your employees to deviate from their day-to-day challenges, it’s worth taking a pause and considering whether any other obstacles need to be confronted first.
As with all good research projects, there should be a brief. Assuming you have a well-defined brief, you will fully understand the problem you are trying to solve, how much money you can spend on a solution, who the key stakeholders are and how much time you have.
If you haven't already, take a look at our post on 8 questions to ask yourself before evaluating new research technology. We’ve even included a free downloadable New Technology Brief template.
Assuming the new research technology ticks all the boxes so far and you are ready for a trial, the next step is to understand what is included.
Here are some key questions you should be looking to answer at this stage:
By seeking answers to these questions, you'll be in a much better position to plan for the trial and there shouldn't be any nasty surprises along the way.
It’s time to develop some objectives for your trial. These should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). This will ensure that you get the most out of the trial period and that any results can be measured against your initial goals.
To develop your SMART objectives, I recommend asking yourself what a successful trial looks like and reviewing the work you did as part of the "8 questions to ask yourself before evaluating new research technology".
Some example SMART objectives for new research technology trials could be:
Now that you have your objectives, it’s time to choose the right employees to take part in the trial. This is an important step as you need to make sure that you have people who are willing and able to provide feedback on their experience, have time to dedicate to a trial, and would be directly impacted if the new research technology is purchased.
It can be helpful to create a profile of your ideal participant. Some factors you may want to consider include:
Once you have created a profile of your ideal participant, you can start to identify employees who fit this description. If you are struggling to find enough people who match the criteria, it may be worth widening the scope of the trial or reconsidering whether a trial is the best option at this stage.
Your participants are lined up and ready to go - but before they jump into the trial period, there is still a bit of planning to do to ensure everyone is aligned. This step is important as it will help to ensure that the trial runs smoothly and you end the trial with some actionable insights.
Some steps you may want to consider during the planning and preparation stage include:
By taking the time to plan and prepare for the trial, you can help to ensure that you end the trial with the information you need to be able to make an informed decision on whether the technology is right for your business.
Your team has been briefed, the timescales have been agreed, and everything is in place - it's time to get stuck in! This is where you will put it to the test and see if it meets your needs.
During the trial period, it’s important to keep track of progress against your objectives and to collect feedback from participants. This will help you to assess whether the new research technology is suitable for your business and, if not, what could be improved.
There are a few different ways you can collect feedback from participants, such as:
This is where you will assess whether the new research technology met your needs and decide whether it is something you would like to purchase.
To do this, I recommend reviewing your objectives and comparing them against the results you achieved during the trial. You should also take into account any feedback you received from participants.
If you feel that the new research technology didn’t meet your needs or that there are areas that could be improved, it may be worth discussing this with the software provider. They may be able to make some changes before you purchase the technology or offer guidance on how you can get the most out of it.
Taking a trial of new research technology can be a great way to see if it is right for your business before you make a purchase. By taking the steps in this post, you can help to ensure that you get the most out of your trial and that you end it with all of the information you need to make an informed decision or to return to the budget holder with a well thought out and tested recommendation.