When you get to a short list of approximately 3 software solutions, you have eliminated most of the vendors and it is time to really dig in to evaluate the closest matches to your situation through a scripted demo process. This means that you will be asking the vendors to show how they will handle your specific requirements, not just the bells and whistles of their standard presentation.
Software Demo Tip #1 – Use a Demo Script
The most important part of this phase is to develop a quality demo script. The demo script actually serves three purposes – 1) It allows you to see how the vendor will solve your specific requirements, 2) the script allows you to schedule your personnel so they only need to show up for their specific areas of functionality, and 3) it allows you to compare the vendors in an equal manner.
To create your script you should take the requirements that you developed in the requirements analysis and re-configure the requirements into a demo script. You should also include more details and processes that your users can observe to see how the software would handle their needs. We recommend you do the following:
- Organize the demo by functional area or process. You should be able to have key people come into view only their section of the demo. This allows them to participate in the demo process without having to watch the full demo.
- Put time constraints for the various functions. For example you may have a time constraint of 1 hour for General Ledger. Remember, you are not looking at everything the vendor can do, you are just looking for a good overview and to see the software in action.
- Provide a place for the demo attendees to write notes on the demo script and to rank the functionality that they see. Rankings allow them to provide feedback regarding the solution’s ability to handle their needs.
Software Demo Tip #2 – Prepare the Software Vendor
Make sure that you give the software vendor the Demo Script in time for them to prepare properly for the demo. You should allow at least 2 weeks for them to prepare and ask questions regarding the script. You should also give the vendors an opportunity to come in for a pre-demo meeting so they can ask any questions regarding the script and your company.
Software Demo Tip #3 – Prepare the Demo Evaluation Team
Hold a meeting with your evaluation team and people that will be attending the demo to orient them as to how to score and rank the vendor demos.
Software Demo Tip #4 – Assign the Demo Police
On the day of the demo, make sure that someone is designated as the demo police. This person will keep the demo under control by monitoring the time and making sure the vendor covers the functionality requested in the script. The demo police will also need to monitor the questions of the attendees for any follow up actions or clarification.
Software Demo Tip #5 – Hold a Demo Review Meeting
After the demos are complete, you should gather all of the feedback from the user attendees and hold a meeting with the decision team to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the vendors. You should then be able to come to a decision of one or two vendors to focus your final due diligence and decision.
In our experience, the demos are a pivotal step in the software selection process. In fact, most of our clients are able to focus in on one vendor after this step.