Can you really try before you buy?

Author:Cooley, Scott
Position:Importance of buying the right software in a mortgage company

It's a problem almost everyone in our industry has either experienced firsthand or had a close business associate who has. A mortgage company buys a software solution and it quickly deteriorates into a boondoggle. The staff frustrations mount, productivity grinds to a standstill, management is up in arms and everyone's pointing figures.

The company is then faced with a difficult choice: It can either toss out the software, resulting in significant loss, or keep it and force a reluctant staff to use something they would rather not. Could this frequent problem be prevented?

With some proper planning, there are ways of preventing catastrophic technology implementations. However, not all of the pre-planning is common sense. Let's look at some common traps to avoid. Hopefully this will help ensure that your next software implementation is smooth and efficiency-enhancing.

The most important decision is making the right technology choice from the start. In my eMortgage column in the November issue of Mortgage Banking, I outlined how to choose the right software product/vendor. What I will cover in this column (my first in Mortgage Banking's new quarterly technology section) is how to take advantage of trial periods and some of the issues that are critical to a proper technology implementation.

First, ask yourself would you really want to go through a trial period using a new system. Most likely, the answer is entirely dependent upon your subjective viewpoint. These are some things you should consider:

* If the software vendor is fairly new and without many proven customers, it's far more important to try the company's solution before jumping in and buying.

* If there is a lot at risk by making the wrong software selection, you should be more likely to try it before buying.

* If the technology niche is newer, such as workflow versus basic loan processing, then a trial session is more pertinent.

* How strongly do you feel about the solution you have chosen? If your confidence is very low, then a trial can help.

The problem with trial periods is they take up a lot of resources. So, you want to make sure one is really needed. Assuming that proper procedures were followed for selecting the right software to begin with, most companies can get by without a trial period.

Software vendors hate trial periods, but it's not for the reasons you might think. Sure, software companies want to collect their revenues quickly; but the primary reason for not liking...

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