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Considering FreeWare?  Make sure you ‘Count the costs’!

Your parents may have told you that nothing in life is free.  Well that’s not entirely true; we all take advantage of Internet ‘freeware’, but in fact someone, somewhere is sponsoring the ads that support the ‘free’ downloads we all see.  Your parents were probably right to counsel you to be wary and look deeper.

When it comes to software it can be very tempting to take advantage of the ‘freeware’ stuff that is out there.  It is just so easy to find a download page and click the ‘download now’ button.  The auto run wizard does all of the work for you, and if you don’t like it you can just ‘remove it’ or ‘System Restore’.  Why not try it out; after all it can’t hurt anything, right?

This may be a good option IF you find a good solution that truly meets your needs, but many times the ‘freeware’ versions are inadequate or scaled back versions of a ‘for purchase’ model that is waiting right around the corner, after you are invested in the free version.  One must consider the often unseen costs of opting for a freeware version of software to meet a need.

Here are a few considerations when looking at free software:

  • Count ‘your’ costs carefully – Many hours, weeks, and months can be spent implementing a “free” system as processes are built around it and training is conducted, resulting in much man hours and internal costs.
  • You are on your own – With freeware or shareware there is often no configuration help, no assistance, and no support for problems that arise. There are no best practices to follow and no training provided. You are forced to learn as you go and often make mistakes along the way that are hard to correct because you have done so much already “the wrong way”
  • Does it really fit? – There was no product specialist to guide you, so you are forced to figure out on your own if it will meet your needs. Often once implemented you may learn that it does not meet needs after all or that certain parts do not work correctly or the way you need them to.
  • Will it grow with you? – What do you do when you outgrow your app or your needs change. Will you force your business tasks around the app, or be forced to start over?

So count the costs of seemingly ‘freeware’ – it may not be as free as you think in the long run once you consider the hidden manpower implications.

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