Understand what you are evaluating
Before I go into the right and wrong ways to run your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system demo process, let’s establish what it is you should be evaluating during the entire selection process. Obviously, it’s ERP, but it’s not only ERP. You will also be entering into a long-term relationship with the company providing implementation and ongoing services. Your implementation provider is as important to the success of your ERP project as choosing the right software. That may sound like a bold statement, but think of it this way: Buying a plane doesn’t make you a pilot. Training, practice, and passing certification tests does. Buying ERP doesn’t implement it. Developing new procedures, training, practice, and successfully completing real-life scenarios does. Who assists you through all this? Your implementation provider. ERP is worthless if it’s not implemented properly, so don’t overlook the importance of your implementation provider.
It’s more than an ERP software demo
Your goals during the ERP selection process and the ERP software demo should be the same: to evaluate both the system and the implementation provider. Let’s go through the steps that need to take place before the ERP software demo to achieve these goals:
- Develop business goals. In fact, this needs to be done before the ERP selection process starts. ERP software is a toolset that allows companies to improve their performance, but your business goals must be more specific than that. What does your company want to achieve? (This is different than what you think you want the software to do.) Focus on your business. These goals will be the measuring stick you use to judge the software in the demo.
- Share these goals with potential ERP software and implementation solution providers. This gives potential providers the opportunity to show you exactly how their software will help you achieve your goals.
- Set the proper expectations. Tell the potential providers that the first ERP system demo needs to be focused on how their ERP will help your company achieve its goals.
By following these steps, you can ensure your ERP software demo is tailored to your company’s needs and will be a productive use of your time. Instead of just evaluating what potential providers want to show, you are evaluating what you want to see: ERP software and the ability of the provider to present solutions that are specific to your business.
Here is an example
Let’s say one of your goals is to achieve 97% on-time delivery. One provider’s ERP demo shows you their on-time delivery report, how it can be part of a dashboard and displayed as a graph, and how that information can be broken down by business unit, customer, or sales rep. A second provider talks about improving your on-time delivery by managing your capacity. This involves creating work orders with accurate estimates, introducing barcode labor reporting to relieve the schedule in real time, and introducing the use of capable-to-promise functionality at order entry to see if the customer’s want date can be achieved.
Which provider did a better job of demonstrating their ability to provide a total solution, not just an ERP product? Clearly, it was the second provider. By creating the right environment for an ERP solution demo, as opposed to an ERP software demo, you can evaluate the provider’s ability to provide a true solution to your company. It also gives you an opportunity to evaluate which provider listens to you. If the demo consists of what they want to show you as opposed to what you asked to see, warning bells should start ringing in your head. That is a clear sign of a provider trying to sell you software, not solutions.
This is why you should never give each potential provider a script. If every provider works off the same script, all the solutions basically look the same. Sure, the presenters will be different and some will have a stronger “stage presence” than others. Some software will look better than others. But isn’t this just turning the entire ERP demo into nothing more than a beauty contest?
Want to learn more?
If you enjoyed this blog, I suggest you read my eBook How to Choose ERP…and not regret it. It is a pretty easy read, and I go into more detail and depth. The best part is – it’s free!