4 Reasons Not to Opt-In for Free Trials of New SaaS Products
It may be tempting to jup on the first offer of a free trial, but it may be more trouble than it's worth.
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
No good company is happy to rest on its laurels when it comes to the tech they use. Especially with the prevailing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, which allows today’s more innovative software companies to churn out better products all the time, it’s important that your team checks out new apps and tools that promise to improve efficiency and effectiveness. And many of these products offer tempting 14-day free trials, making it easier to try them on for size.
However, you can quickly go from test-drive to overdoing it when you continuously “trial” new services that promise to change the way you work. From compliance dangers to misalignment with the rest of your company’s tech stack, diving into too many trials can be detrimental to your company’s health.
Here are some of the top reasons to think twice the next time you see an offer you are tempted to go for.
1. It Might Not Be What You Need
One common reason to try software is to determine if its features will actually be useful to you, but there are other ways to figure this out. The first place to look is on a company’s marketing materials, which should include the basics to at least understand what an application does and how. Be on the lookout for obtuse, vague, or needlessly complicated language that tries to funnel you into a trial, rather than explaining in plain language what to expect.
Often enough, your company may already have a similar service that does what this other product trial can. More importantly, it may be completely irrelevant to your actual needs. Trusted resources like GetApp’s directory, for example, includes a category-indexed discovery engine, trustworthy reviews, and even ad-hoc comparison tables, so you can compare features of multiple business software products side-by-side.
It’s important to understand, before you register for something, what value it can actually give you. If the documentation is unable to convince you of the service’s value, the trial likely won’t do much more to convince you.
2. Free Trials Can Still Access Sensitive Data
Even though free trials seem like limited risks, they can be more insidious and dangerous than you imagine. To unlock all of an app’s functionality, SaaS platforms often need access to sensitive information such as IDs, logins, integration keys, and back-end permissions. The problem is these permissions are hidden behind mountains of fine print and are not always immediately clear.
Giving free trial access means you could unwittingly be granting access to vital data to a third-party company, which is a major danger in the age of regulation like GDPR and rampant cyber attacks.
Smart governance guidelines can alleviate this problem, and security tools that restrict the data that can be shared, or applications which can be installed, can greatly assist. Using a SaaS management platform can help a great deal in this regard. Torii, for example, allows admins to see which SaaS tools have been granted what permissions, and to revoke access with just a few clicks.
3. "Free Trial" Versions Can Be Useless
Many times, companies will offer a “free” version of an application that just doesn’t measure up to their paid (“freemium”) version. It may be tempting to try the free tool, simply to access the functions you need, but this logic raises a question: if it’s too expensive to buy, why bother?
Before putting your company under an unnecessary financial strain, check to see if there are free tools that provide similar services. Though Salesforce may be the world’s top CRM, open source tools such as EspoCRM or CiviCRM can provide the basic CRM tools a company needs – for no cost at all.
In fact, most SaaS has freebie counterparts that can do at least the basics of what you would be paying to use the SaaS for in the first place. AlternativeTo, a crowdsourced directory, can help you identify them.
4. They Often Aren’t Actually Free
Most trial offers require you to provide a credit card or payment information, even though they will not immediately charge you. However, these same trials will usually include a clause that allows them to automatically turn your free trial into a paid subscription once the trial period ends.
This “opt out” model means that a company that forgets or delays a cancellation even by a single day can be billed for hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
With SaaS responsibilities being assigned to non-IT personnel, the danger of shadow accounts ciphering money out of companies is becoming a larger threat. If you use a subscription service tracker, though, at least you won’t get blindsided when the bill comes.
Choose Your SaaS Wisely
SaaS adoption is hot. As of last year, nearly 40% of US businesses were transitioning to a SaaS-exclusive workplace. Before trialing countless web apps, take the time to consider what you have, what you need, and why you need it.
Instead of adding more layers of complexity and unnecessary bloat, look at the research, reviews, alternatives, and hidden costs, to avoid putting your company at a disadvantage.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.