Making the Most of 30-Day Software Trials10 Aug, 2011 By: Robert Green
CAD Manager's Toolbox: The best way to evaluate an application is to try it yourself — after you do your homework, that is.
Want to expand your software knowledge by learning about an application you'd never use on the job? Yearning to dabble in rendering, or explore a completely new CAD tool? Trying to determine whether a particular piece of software would make sense for your company, but don't have the budget to purchase a license? The 30-day trial offered by many software providers gives you a month to investigate, learn, and expand your knowledge base — but only if you plan for it.
Here's how to get the maximum value out of a trial version:
- Do your reading first. By reading up on the software via reviews, blogs, company web sites, etc., you'll learn a good bit about what is possible and how to approach your trial software period. Take note of any limitations on the trial version: Does it include all the features and capabilities of the paid version?
- Find tutorials. Sometimes tutorials can be found on company web sites, and often you can find computer training companies that offer short text or video tutorials. All these will help prepare you for working with the software.
- Consider purchasing a reference guide or online training course. When you think about the fact that you only have one month to explore the software, doesn't it make sense to spend $50 or $100 dollars on a great training resource to help you get the most from that brief period?
- Block out the time you'll need. Never start a trial license on a Monday unless you know you'll do some work with the software every day after work. It's better to start your trial on a weekend and set aside several quality hours per day to really focus on the software. Don't start your trial until you're sure you're ready to start learning.
It is amazing how much you can learn about a piece of software if you read up on it, know what to expect, and work through some training exercises before you jump in. Once your trial period is completed, you'll have learned enough to decide whether purchasing the software makes sense. And the best part is, you can do all this for no or very little cost, so there's no way anyone can object!
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