Get the most you can from that ERP demonstration

The sales and demonstration crew from an ERP provider are going to be at your office in just one hour. Are you properly prepared? If you are just now asking that question, the answer could likely be – No.

Be clear on your needs

You and your team members should have met already to work out specific features that are must-haves in your ERP. What do you need to help increase revenue and reduce costs that an ERP will be the tool to deliver? These points are why you are even in the market and you must see all of these in your demonstration.

You also have listed additional features that would be nice to have but are not absolutely required. Rank these in importance and you want to see as many of the top items as possible in a demonstration.

Demo format

Traditional vendor-led demonstrations are the most common method to really get into an ERP and see how those critical factors of yours will work with a particular ERP. Now the onus falls on you to control the demonstration. If you allow the vendor to control the demonstration there is a chance some of your important requirements will be inadequately covered.

Get the script

ERP providers have standard demos ready. They have presented these to many prospects. You can be sure that these demos highlight all the points where this ERP vendor considers itself strong and skips by any points where they know they are not competitive. Once you have the script in hand, rework it to meet your needs and interests. Make certain all your vital concerns are covered and will be shown. You might have team members who cannot be present for an entire demo. Rearrange the timing so that all members have a good chance to see their interests demonstrated in enough detail. Eliminate any time devoted to features you will not likely ever need.

Customization and integration

Many businesses will need to integrate their new ERP with systems they already use or are planning to purchase elsewhere. You could take a salesperson’s statement that it will all connect easily through web services. Better still, ask for a demonstration that displays what steps are needed for a simple integration.

Think of a customization you think you might want to use with the ERP. Ask here too for a demo that shows the steps to perform that customization and the desirable results.

Develop a scorecard

How well was a feature demonstrated? How closely does that feature seem to meet the needs? Some questions and criteria can be answered with a simple yes / no response. Others will need some kind of ranking scale. Be sure the scorecard covers all the vital features you have determined are important to you. Include the top points from the nice to have list as well.

Now, use the scorecard. Rank each demo. Have your team participants rank all the demos. When the demos are finished, you are tired and you have them all floating in your mind in a kind of blur. The scorecards you completed immediately after each demo will help you clear up that blur. Hard numbers might indicate the demo you liked best actually ranks lowest. The demo that scores highest is the winner.

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