The Influence of a Sample
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The Influence of a Sample

Test drives, paint chips, beer flights, book excerpts, first dates, movie trailers, model homes – it doesn’t seem to matter on the decision we’re trying to make – sometimes you need some first-hand information.

Whether making a big purchase like a house or a car – or something as small as an ice cream cone –doesn’t seem to matter.  Before we make a commitment, we frequently need more data.

We need a sample.

It makes sense.  Every decision comes with risk.  So, when possible, we get a sample to help us to make a better decision.

And there’s nothing quite like actually putting your hands on the product to confirm the direction of your decision.  It can be the best predictor of fit, success, and future experience.

The Potential of Pilot

In the software world, our samples are called Pilots – and they can be a really effective tool, especially when it comes to your business systems.

Investing in a pilot solution can answer some key questions in the selection process:

  • Will it work here? Running a Pilot on-site with your people and processes may be the best way to answer this question.
  • What will I need to change? Pilots provide additional data to assist in fine-tuning requirements for the system that you’re hoping to implement, the environment it’ll reside in, or event the business processes that will surround it
  • What do I do next?
    • If everything looks good, the Pilot activity results can help make your case to a hesitant group
    • The results can also help you to avoid an investment in a larger effort if the Pilot experience shows there isn’t a fit (or a fit now).

Investment in the Pilot

Even if you are doing a “free” trial of something, the old adage that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” still applies.  If you want to get anything out of your Pilot, there’s an investment.

  • Preparation Time There may be time and effort to install and prepare the Pilot system
  • Learning Curve You will need to invest time to learn and use the Pilot system – and then review that system with an eye towards your business processes and how the system will fit your operations
  • May Delay a Production Result Running a pilot adds time to the procurement process – and by extension, the overall project implementation plan.

Pilots and samples can give us a first-hand perspective on its subject.  It can help us to flush out issues in our plans we might not have known about.  It can also help to shed light on potential benefits we might not have considered.

We don’t always get the chance to try something out before making a larger decision and commitment.  But when you have the opportunity, it may be worth it.

After all, how would you know if you’d like the pistachio ice cream if you didn’t try a bite?