Acrobat-ic Maneuvers: Get Your Knowledge(Base) On
Purchasing a software product is only step two. Before you buy
into any system, you should give it a serious run-through, by
virtue of a free trial. Don't be unpleasantly surprised. And, part
of your research should involve a thorough review of the program's
knowledgebase; because, before you buy a product, you should have
some idea about how you're going to figure out how to use it once
you have it.
You'll generally find that there are levels of support for every
product, available via a number of delivery methods (and in 2011,
some companies are choosing to provide customer service exclusively
via email), from available tutorials accessible by account holders,
to certified consultants charging hourly (or otherwise), to initial
set-up services, and etc.
And, while it's great to find diamonds in the rough (really useful
products that not everybody has caught onto yet, and that thereby
come at an essential discount), there are reasons why people pay
for the popular, leading products. One of those reasons is that
that those products are often pretty darn good to begin with,
probably having a killer feature, or several, just made for
increasing popularity; from there, parent companies can use the
moneys generated by significant market share to improve and market
(although not necessarily in that order) the product. Another one
of those reasons is that people tend to write about popular
products, because there's nothing so crowded as a runaway
bandwagon. So, when you're shelling out for a popular software
program, keep in mind that you're generally getting something else
of real value, too: lots of free tips and techniques on how to use
that program. If you're an open sourcer, that's not always awaiting
under your Christmas tree.
For an example of what I mean, consider the case of Adobe Acrobat, now in version X, or 10. As of
this writing, a search for "Adobe Acrobat Tips" on Google
returns just over six million results. That's a lot of free
information; and, if you're even marginally software-handy, that's
a lot of money you won't need to pay for support to get your mind
wrapped around your new toy. Probably the best Adobe Acrobat
resource, by a wide stretch, is Rick
Borstein's Acrobat for Legal Professionals blog. Rick is the
business development manager for Acrobat in legal, and his blog
features lots of useful tips and tricks. You can also follow
Rick at his Twitter account @acrolaw; and, that's another place to get your
Acrobat questions answered. In addition to Rick's resources, you
can even find books written about Acrobat, including for lawyers,
like the ABA's "The Lawyer's Guide to Adobe Acrobat". And, if
you're thrifty, you won't buy those books, either; rather, you'll
hit up the local library.
So, the next time you're investing in software, consider whether a
robust and inexpensive knowledgebase will be available
post-purchase, and flatten your learning curve.
Tip courtesy of Jared Correia, Law Practice Management
Office Management Assistance Program.
Published March 10, 2011
For more helpful tips, join the MBA's Law Practice Management
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