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How to Spot Vaporware Before You’re Stuck with an Invoice

FinalForms Media

Congratulations, you’ve found the “one-stop-shop”, “all-in-one” technology that does everything for your athletic department. You’re excited, and it’s easy to understand why. We all love technology’s latest and greatest innovations. Heck, maybe it’s even “free”.

We’ve all been in this position before. You GOTTA GET IT, right? Not so fast, Turbo.

Let’s think back to your childhood. Did you ever get that Atari 2700? It was going to be all the rage. Atari promised to elevate their current model with a futuristic matte-black design and space-age controllers. Ads, packages, and pitches were created. Rumors swirled about release dates. Well, those dates never came, and yeah... we’re still salty. 

Your IT Director and Superintendent likely have similar stories when it comes to dealing with vile vendors who over-promised solutions that ultimately failed your staff and students. 

When it comes to education-based athletics, vaporware is a disservice to athletes, coaches, and administrators. Over-promised and under-performing solutions can leave your athletes at risk, your coaches unprepared, and your athletic department open to risk, controversy, and liability headaches. 

Don’t worry, we’re here to help you avoid the pitfalls of vaporware. Here’s a few easy steps...

Do Your Diligence

We all want the topsy-turvy tech that makes our problems go away, but that’s not reality. If you’re looking at a shiny, new product that solves all of your problems and more, do some digging. 

  • Does their team include “school people”?
  • How long has the product been used by schools?
  • Can your colleagues vouch for their service and support?
  • How do they make money? (If it’s processing credit cards, beware!)

When doing your digging, you may find that schools have been waiting for months, begging for updates, or dropping the product altogether. This is a strong indicator that you’re looking at vaporware.

Ask Questions

If you’re in the buying process and they’re bombarding your brain with features, it’s time to play the skeptic. Ask questions. A lot of questions.

The vendor should be familiar with your questions and be able to calm your concerns by providing a live demonstration to answer any question. Here are just a few recommended questions to ask:

  • Who will be my direct contact?
  • Who provides support for my staff, parents, and students?
  • How long will it take to get an answer?
  • Can I contact any of your customers to discuss your product and services?
  • How long does it take to turn around a customization request?

You’d be surprised at how these simple questions can completely perplex even the best vaporware salesperson.

Know the "Now" Product

It’s almost time for the demo, but before you dive in… know what you want. Put together a list of requirements that you can share with the vendor to ensure they will be able meet your expectations now, not later.

  • Pay attention to the pitch as it leads up to the demo. Has it changed since you started talking? 
  • Are items from your list of requirements suddenly part of the pitch? 
  • Are they promising that features are “in development”?
  • Are they answering, or avoiding, your questions?

Do the Demo

Hopefully your diligence, questions, and pitch evaluation will qualify, and disqualify, your choices for a demo. After all, your time is important and you don’t want to sit through a dozen demos.

That said, if a live demo does not exist, stop. If the live demo does not include enough of your requirements, and promises are pervasive in the pitch, it’s veering toward vaporware. If the demo meets your requirements, especially after passing through the earlier vetting process, you’ve got a winner!


 

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