The software demo is one of the most important steps of the HCM system implementation process. Project leaders must prepare beforehand to ensure the demo is as valuable as possible for everyone involved.
Project leaders should ensure key stakeholders can attend the demo and that the vendor shares the right information so the evaluation team can make a well-informed decision. Building or maintaining vendor relationships are also important considerations.
Here are some tips project leaders should keep in mind when preparing for the demo and moving forward afterward.
1. Carefully evaluate vendors
Whether or not a request for proposal (RFP) was part of the procurement process, project leaders should select for a demo only the vendors whose software appears to meet the company's most important requirements. Demos are time-consuming for project team members and the vendor, so try to avoid wasting anyone's time.
As part of identifying vendors for a demo, leaders should also gain a basic understanding of each vendor's pricing model. For example, some of the larger HCM vendors may be too expensive and overly complex for an organization with 100 employees.
If a project leader's organization uses a formal RFP process, the leader should confirm the correct vendor communication protocol with the procurement team. Rules may require the organization to limit contact with vendors outside of formal channels.
2. Invite all key stakeholders
A project leader should ensure key stakeholder groups such as IT, Finance and HR are represented at the demo. Inviting them benefits the decision-making process because all the stakeholder groups will learn everything important mentioned at the demo. In addition, inviting stakeholders can make other departments more amenable to the final software decision, because the HR team didn't select an HCM system in isolation.
Leaders should schedule demos far in advance, as finding a time when everyone is available can be difficult.
3. Make a discovery call beforehand
Talking with the vendor ahead of the demo and discussing what the vendor will show as well as answering any vendor questions are all essential parts of this process. The call is a great opportunity to review the organization's software requirements with the vendor and hopefully prevents a canned vendor presentation that doesn't specify how the software can meet company needs. For everyone's benefit, vendors should understand which system requirements are must-haves before the demo takes place.
Depending on the organization, one person on the team who has sufficient knowledge of the organization's software needs may make this call, or the entire evaluation team may participate.
4. Review system requirements
Before going into a demo, the project leader should confirm the company's HCM system requirements are easy to understand. Also check that all key stakeholders have weighed in or have had the opportunity to do so.
5. Get demo feedback
After the demo, the project leader should reach out to everyone who attended to get their thoughts. Ask which features they liked, what they would like to see in a potential second demo, and any notable omissions. Encourage attendees to share any concerns now so the evaluation team can properly address them.
6. Share post-demo feedback with vendors
After receiving feedback from the evaluation team, the project leader should talk with the vendor and share those thoughts.
Doing so gives the vendor an opportunity to address the feedback and provide more information if necessary. For example, the vendor can confirm whether a perceived limitation in the software is accurate, and, if not, explain how a user can achieve the functionality.
7. Consider a follow-up demo
If the evaluation team has several outstanding questions, another demo may benefit everyone. The vendor can answer the evaluation team's questions and share application features they may not have shown in the first demo because of lack of time or other reasons.
8. Give final vendor feedback
Once all the vendor demos are complete, the project leader should give each vendor feedback on the demo and their HCM system, then inform them about the company's decision.
Vendors invest a lot of time in preparing for and giving demos, so the feedback will help them and demonstrate that the organization values their time.