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Reality IT: Pre-Purchase Product Testing Can Save the Day

Not a Bug, a Feature

When I first started at ACME as the network manager, we were implementing an intelligent-routing application for our call center. The decision to buy had been made before I came aboard, and it wasn't a good one.

Our non-IT decision-makers had taken the word of the vendor (a very big name in telecom) that this product would run on our managers' workstations with no problem. Well, it would have--but only if the workstations weren't running the IPX/SPX protocol and we were a Novell NetWare shop. The application required NetBIOS to run properly, and it took us an extra month to jury-rig a solution that let all the protocols co-exist. The project was delayed by almost two months, but a few simple prepurchase tests could have exposed the problem before it affected our business.

Just Fell Off the Turnip Truck

I've heard some sales pitches that were so full of holes, you could use them to grate cheese. One vendor's "installed base" consisted of two companies. Another vendor's software required massive servers that would make NASA envious. A developer once proposed to create a custom application for us at a cost of more than a million dollars--even though we were evaluating off-the-shelf applications that fit our needs well. Still another vendor would not agree to use our test data--even though two of its competitors already had.

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