ERP System Demonstrations

The system demonstration is a critical element in a structured ERP system selection process. What are the main questions you should be looking to answer?

Prospective ERP buyers should use the system demonstration element of the selection process to answer three questions:

  • Does the system meet my functional requirements?
  • Is the system going to be easy to use?
  • Can I work with these people?

Let’s take these questions one at a time:

1. Does the system meet my functional requirements?

If you’re using a structured selection process (such as Lumenia's) then you’ve already figured out that the systems being demonstrated are likely to meet a high percentage of your requirements “out of the box” and are already in use in similar businesses and your industry sector. The demo gets you down to the next level of detail: you’re asking each vendor to show you how their system meets the specific functional requirements of your business. The critical component in achieving this is a test script that outlines the scenarios you need to see demonstrated. Time is always limited, so getting the balance right is vital: it’s very easy to spend far too much time on basic stuff and too little on the things that are really going to make a difference for your business. Focus on the differentiators and you’ll find it easier to identify any gaps between what you really need and what’s being offered. You’ll also find it significantly easier to decide which system is best for you from a functional perspective.

2. Is the ERP system going to be easy to use?

Despite what I’ve just said above, you’ve still got to allow time in the demo to see how the system deals with the standard tasks that make up much of a user’s daily workload. Nobody’s going to think the new ERP system was a good choice if it takes twice as long as before to enter sales orders or receive goods. Many systems have great user productivity features, helping users save time and find information much more quickly, so make sure to allow enough time to get a good feel for how these usability features can benefit your business.

3. Can I work with these people?

You’re going to be spending a lot of time with the vendor’s sales team and consultants during the demos. This allows you to pick up on a lot of softer information, such as:

  • How much do they know about my industry sector?
  • Have they encountered my issues elsewhere, and helped other clients deal with them?
  • On a personal level, do I think I can work with these people? Is their business culture likely to clash with mine?
  • Are the consultants knowledgeable about the product, and able to answer unscripted questions?
  • Have the consultants shown the level of professionalism I’d expect by being well prepared for the demo and punctual?

A successful demo should leave you with clear answers on each of these three questions, leaving you in a good position to use what you’ve learned as part of your decision on a preferred vendor.

This blog was written by John Donagher, Principal Consultant at Lumenia. If you would like further information on ERP System Selection or on any other aspect of ERP please send an e-mail to John Donagher.