Creating software people love!

Try Before You Buy - It's Important

Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Lee Paul / Software Superhero

Being able to try out software before you even commit to buying it has become something that people have come to expect. For development tools, it is popular to offer trials of the technology as well as demonstrations for what it can do. At Surround, our developers use many tools and are constantly trying out new ones. Our customers have come to rely on us to do that leg work and to make recommendations.

Trying out development software can often be a challenge.

For small development tools and utilities, trial software is fairly simple. You download, install and give it a whirl. But for more complex tools, putting the technology through its paces can often run into roadblocks. We try to make our software as easy and intuitive to use as possible, but sometimes developers can use a bit more guidance and know-how to ease the learning curve.

Surround's Accelerator is a powerful development tool that can be used to create entire systems in a matter of minutes. With all that power beneath the hood, understanding it is the key to truly unleashing all its (and your) capabilities. With only a rudimentary evaluation you will see amazing power, but you’ll still only be scratching the surface of what is possible.

Surround provides an Accelerator Trial, and to avoid developers struggling to get started with all it has to offer, we provide several means of support. There’s a “Getting Started” guide as well as both video and written tutorials in our documentation to assist with the process. We also continue to improve the product as we observe where developers may struggle and we are working on more video guides to assist even further.

Time is short

Ultimately though, developers trust that with a little training and guidance they can master just about any tool. Time is short and they really want to see what they can achieve before making that kind of commitment.

For development tools, the answer to this is a demonstration that shows what the solution is capable of. I’m not talking about case studies or videos, but hands-on use of the final product.

Don’t show me smoke and mirrors

Hands-on use of the final product does not mean something that developers have painstakingly done after-the-fact to make the solution look better than it really is. You want to see the real thing and know how it was completed and with what kind of effort. The more real and transparent the demo and trials are, the more confident you are to trust that you can do it to.

Seeing a solution and getting to interact with it, really gives a feel for what you can expect – and, in many cases, gives ideas about how your business needs will work into the solution. You play with the features available in the demo and get ideas about how you can structure a solution. Instead of just reading about the features – you experience them – and that experience can tell so much more about the product.

It also gives you some insight about what stage the vendor is at in development. A publicly available demo means they're proud to show off their solution - and that likely they’ve paid a lot of attention to detail. So, when there’s an online demo, you’re clicking on it. After all, you wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it first.

Accelerator Demonstrations

For Surround’s Accelerator, we have deployed several demonstrations to give you a good look. They are all available on the Accelerator Demonstrations page. Be sure to give them a good run through and see all the features available.

Be warned though when trying these out. Your mind may be blown.

Define Objectives and Create a Checklist

As you go through different trial and demonstration software, be sure to have an objective with a checklist of things you are looking for from the solution that you can use to compare to other options. In the case of a software development solution some objectives you may be considering are to:

  • Create Windows, Web and/or Mobile software.
  • Modernize a large legacy system, create new software, or improve ongoing development.
  • Create enterprise line-of-business or business website and portal solutions.
  • Deliver software faster.
  • Provide better quality software.
  • Develop commercial quality software.
  • Eliminate any limitations to what you can develop.
  • Minimize delivery risks and business disruption.
  • Capitalize on and reuse previous software investments.
  • Be able to quickly adapt and evolve software to changing technologies and business needs.
  • Increase software adoption and user productivity.
  • Improve application management, monitoring and control.

And, some checklist items you may be considering are:

  • Are modern, widely-adopted technologies used?
  • Does the solution require training, and if so what options are available and how big is the learning curve?
  • Are there plenty of skilled people available if needed?
  • What software architecture is included or impacted by the solution?
  • Will the solution reduce your technical debt?
  • Are there any proprietary technologies that could create unwanted lock-in or limitations?
  • Is the solution based on framework?
  • Do you need support for software security, management, monitoring and control?
  • Do you need to integrate or retrofit existing legacy software?
  • Is the pricing clear and understandable now and as your needs change and grow?

Most Important of All – Don't Procrastinate

Sometimes it is useful to be patient and wait to find the correct solution. However, patience and procrastination are very different things and it is easy to do nothing due for fear of making the wrong decision, especially when mistakes may be costly or may consume a lot of your time. Fear not. Do your homework, work with the trials, play with the demos, evaluate your checklist, minimize your risk, and take confidence in your decision.