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7 items to include on an ERP vendor demo checklist

Creating an ERP vendor demo checklist before the presentation can prove beneficial for both the implementation team and the vendor. Learn several items to include on the checklist.

ERP implementation teams must properly prepare before a vendor demo to get the most out of the presentation and ensure the software they choose meets business needs. Creating a checklist can offer many benefits, including ensuring the ERP demos run smoothly, the right people attend the software demos and the team consistently evaluates each vendor.

ERP system demos can be time-consuming for everyone involved, so a checklist can help ensure everything goes well before, during and after the demo. Some items to include on the checklist include selecting a demo spokesperson and creating scorecards.

The ERP implementation team should select a team member to create the vendor demo checklist. Here are some items the chosen team member should consider including.

1. Designate a meeting organizer

The ERP implementation team should assign someone to arrange the meetings for potential vendors. The meeting organizer's duties include finding a time that works for all the stakeholders; booking a meeting room, if some or all of the meeting attendees will gather in person; and, if remote attendees are included, arranging for video conferencing software, speakers and microphones for in-person attendees. If some people will attend in person, the organizer may also need to figure out food and drinks for the day.

The organizer may also need to take care of travel arrangements for out-of-town attendees, access badges for the building and meeting room, and information about the city if meeting attendees live elsewhere and will be staying multiple days.

2. Designate a demo spokesperson

The demo should make good use of everyone's time. One way to ensure that happens is for the implementation team to assign one person to serve as spokesperson. The spokesperson helps arrange the day's schedule, evaluates topics to circle back to later and helps guide the demo if it's stretching too long.

The spokesperson doesn't necessarily need to approve all questions, but choosing a spokesperson avoids the ERP vendor receiving competing requests and losing control of the meeting. The spokesperson should be a senior member of the team who has broad knowledge of the project and can speak with some authority when needed.

3. Define mandatory workflows for the demo

The ERP implementation team member creating the checklist should list core workflows that the vendors should cover during the demo. For example, the implementation team might ask the vendor to demonstrate business processes such as how to identify errors in invoices and fix ones that a user has already sent.

Making this list will help the implementation team compare one vendor's product to another, and sending the list to vendors before demonstrations can help vendors prepare for the demo.

If the team does not ask vendors to demonstrate specific workflows, vendors may avoid demoing workflows that are difficult to complete, or they may gloss over important workflow steps.

4. Create scorecards

Objectively evaluating each demoed ERP software is critical for the ERP selection process, and making scorecards before the demo with categories like pricing and other selection criteria is helpful in many ways. If the team is aware of ERP requirements before the demo, team members can make sure the vendors demonstrate functionality that appears on the scorecard, skip items that don't appear on the scorecard and avoid favoring an application that will not meet business requirements.

5. Schedule a pre-demo meeting

Before the first demo, the ERP implementation team should meet with all the company employees who will be participating in the demo and highlight important demo information. For example, the team may want to review who they've selected as the spokesperson and why there is one as well as going over the scorecards and discussing the ratings system for the new ERP software.

This meeting is also a good opportunity to receive feedback from the ERP implementation team about the ERP software selection process before the demos begin.

6. Prep the vendor for the meetings

A member of the project team with broad knowledge of the software requirements should meet with the vendors individually ahead of the demos to ensure vendors are prepared for the meetings. During these meetings, they can explain how the demo will unfold, which features the vendor should demonstrate and who will attend the presentation.

Holding this meeting can help avoid surprises during the demo, such as asking the vendor to demo a module that it isn't prepared to show. Being asked this would likely frustrate the vendor, since it may be unable to demonstrate the module, causing attendees to think the product can't accomplish a task that it can in fact carry out. If the vendor is unprepared, the project team may not receive the proper information for their scorecards and may not select the right ERP.

In addition, an implementation team member meeting with each vendor ahead of the demos ensures each vendor receives the same information and the team avoids any potential favoritism.

7. Schedule a post-demo follow-up

The ERP implementation team should set a time for providing feedback to the vendors after the demo and outlining the next steps in the selection process. Vendors put a lot of time in preparing for and delivering the demo, so the implementation team should be courteous and share information based on input from the evaluation team.

The feedback may include features that didn't meet the team's requirements, questions from the implementation team and features that impressed the team. The vendor can then provide additional information or arrange a follow-up demo if needed.

In addition, the implementation team should provide the vendor with a high-level timeline of next steps. Doing so helps the vendor prepare for the rest of the evaluation and selection process.

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