In the January issue of Innovative Thinking, we differentiated the RFI vs. the RFP, and advocated the use of the RFI in your ERP selection process. This month, we continue our ERP Done Right series - with an explanation of The Scripted Demo - one of the key elements in effective software selection. Put your ERP Done Right articles together and you'll have a cookbook for great ERP results. Stay tuned. Don't miss a single issue!
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The Scripted Demo - Demystified. Lights, Camera, Action! By Paul Sita, Principal, Innovative IT Consulting, LLC. Paul can be reached at 631-549-1685 or email@example.com.
The Scripted Demo - Demystified. Isn’t it easier to just have vendors come in, strut their wings and show off their best stuff? Sure it’s easier. But it’s a lot riskier. Not that “canned” vendor demos don’t have a place. They do. Their place is to give you some exposure to the product, navigation, architecture, ease of use, general features and capabilities. That’s all well and good. But when it comes down to deciding which of these software packages is going to be the platform upon which your company relies for the next 10 years or more, that’s just not good enough.
To make the right decision, you need a scripted demo.
And if you follow along, we’ll tell you how to create one.
What exactly is a scripted demo? A scripted demo is a demonstration that has been pre-arranged to show how a software package handles specific business transactions that are important to your business. In many cases these business transactions are really “scenarios”, examples of business processes that can span multiple functions and departments in your company.
For example, an order processing scenario might include taking an order over the phone with more than 5 line items, with at least 1 item back ordered, 1 item that requires a substitute, and requiring special handling. Beyond this, the scenario might state that the customer subsequently calls and cancels 1 line item, and needs to add something else to the order or split the delivery to two locations. In addition to taking the order, we’d want to see how it gets picked and packed and invoiced. Then when the customer pays, they make a partial payment and apply a credit from another previous order. If you have special pricing or other parameters these should be incorporated as much as possible as well.
It really is YOUR DEMO. The difference between this and a typical vendor demonstrated transaction is that the vendor needs to show this using YOUR DATA, in terms that are comfortable and familiar to you, so that your personnel can really understand how this process will work in the new system vs. your current system.
Isn’t this a lot of work? Yes it is. Not just for you but for the vendor as well. This is why the scripted demo is reserved for your short list of vendors that have been pre-screened against your business requirements so you know that they are a reasonably good fit for your business.
The scripted demo identifies to the vendor the transactions, processes and scenarios that you want to see demonstrated, and spells out how much time will be allotted to do that. So you might spend 2 hours in order management, 2 hours in planning and inventory management, 1 hour on accounting.
Don't the vendors get a chance to sell?
Certainly some time should be devoted to hearing the vendor’s story, understanding their strategy, etc. as well as give them some time (at the end!) to show you their “gee-whiz” tools, business intelligence, etc. The scripted demo shows the vendor that you are serious and know what you need. It also demonstrates their ability to understand those needs and willingness to spend their resources to address those needs. If they are incapable or unwilling to do this during the sales process, what can you expect after you become a customer?
Scripted demo essentials – the script for the scripted demo!
- Structure the entire demo, including how much is allotted to each functional area or business process. This will allow you to invite the right people to each part of the schedule.
- Leave time in the agenda for breaks. Demos can be very grueling. Schedule the breaks at appropriate times.
- Define the data to be used. Provide samples of data and reports to the vendor. Not only will this enable you to understand the transactions, but you’ll be able to see if they are handled properly and know what the results should be. Don’t give the vendor your most complex transactions, but don’t give them your easiest ones either.
- Give the vendor time to introduce their company and their team – but limit this to 30 minutes.
- Provide some time at the end for additional things the vendor would like to show you.
- Leave time for Q&A.
- Schedule technical reviews and other detailed discussions separately. These don’t require your entire cross-functional team.
- Most importantly, do not allow the vendor to veer from the script! If they are unprepared because they haven’t input your data, or don’t understand your transactions, then depending on the situation you can have them re-schedule, or send them on their way! Do not accept responses such as “we’re really busy right now”, or “other customers really want to see it this way”, or I’m only familiar with the demo data. If a vendor can’t follow your lead, understand your requirements, or hasn’t committed the time to get your scripted demo done properly, they either can’t handle your business or don’t want it bad enough!
- Debrief with your team the same day as the demo. It’s all too easy to forget key issues once a day or two goes by.
Summing up. The consistency of having multiple vendors demonstrate the same transactions will really help you understand the differences between the various systems, and evaluate them more easily at the end of the demo when you do your de-briefing. If you need help creating the perfect demo, call the experts at Innovative. After all, we wrote the script!
Who’s really running the demo?
By John Pellegrino,Principal, Innovative IT Consulting, LLC. John can be reached at 631-549-1685 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In our main article we discuss the reasons for insisting on a scripted demo if you are looking for new ERP software. However, since our newsletter is also enjoyed by vendors and partners I am addressing this to them and anyone else that is in the position of performing a demonstration, including a staff resource that may be showing something to internal “customers” (e.g. an IT person showing end users).
Flexibility – showing what the audience wants to see. Whether the customer has provided a script or not you should have a basic idea of what it is that you want to demonstrate. This could be a formal or informal list of functions or features. As the demonstration progresses questions will come up that may require you to show something that is later on your list or not on your list at all. Address this question immediately or soon thereafter by showing the feature or function. In other words be flexible in what you will demonstrate and in what order. You can always go back at the end of the demonstration and make sure that you covered all the points you wanted to.
Who’s really running the demo? You may think that you’re running it because you’re pressing keys and moving the mouse. But, the customer, external or internal, is running the demo and you should follow their lead.
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Word Scramble time.
“A situation or kind of transaction that occurs in your business. (1 word)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ R C I E N O S A
Answer to last month's word scramble.
“A process of eliminating potential vendors from a software selection process." (SCREENING)
In March we'll continue ERP Done Right when we discuss the Business Case.
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