New System Selection: Part 3

By Enabliser Andrew Mc
The last blog 2 of 3 covered off the initial meeting and proposals, now we will discuss the approach to the demonstration.

How to prepare for the demonstration
That might sound like a strange concept to some, as you might feel that all of the preparation should be on the other side – the presenter, after all don’t you have to just show up and enjoy the show?  This stage is about the proving what a CRM or ERP solution can do for you and you being comfortable that it will be a workable solution, so you will need to participate to get the outcome you want.

The obvious place to start is the draft proposal or solution outline – what are the key points and promises from each prospective partner, what should they be looking to prove that they can do?  Create a summary table of these to take in to each demonstration – and ensure everyone on the review team agrees on the table and uses it during the demonstration. This way you will be able to compare results based on the same criteria after each presentation.  You will get the most benefit from this tool if you don’t refine it as you go, as the comparisons it will provide between the solutions will be critical to your decision.  

Also, make sure you book everyone in to discuss the presentation afterwards, and this must be soon after the presentation so the material is still fresh.  It’s best to ensure that you have not seen another presentation before discussing the first, this way you won’t start to get confused as to which capabilities belonged to which solution.

At the demonstration
There may be some key capabilities you are very keen to see – but try not to direct the demonstration, let the partner tell their story.  They should have prepared a presentation that illustrates your key requirements in a coherent story.   

Not all functionality is easy to demonstrate so don’t expect to see everything, but if a critical part of the solution falls into this category – have the presenters demonstrated how this will work for you using other methods?  They may have a good illustration of how it worked for someone else, or a diagram to explain the key concepts.  If you feel something is missing, ask the question, the response will tell if there is a good reason for not showing it or if it has been forgotten.  If it has been forgotten, is it part of the solution or will there need to be an update to the proposal?
A professional solution presentation should be focussed on what is in the proposal and not stray too much, there may be some showing of “capabilities” but be sure to clarify in the session wrap up what is in the solution and what isn’t.

After the Demonstration
The final step is to discuss your findings at the end of the presentation. This should be an open discussion and ensure that all stakeholders are heard – you may not all agree on each solution but it is a good idea to get everyone’s perspective.   You will also find the reasons a particular feature is liked, or not liked, provide an insight to each other’s role and perspectives.
There will be further steps to ensure this is the right solution, such as reference checks or follow up presentations for points that may need to be re-examined, but these will depend on your exact situation.  At the conclusion of these stages you should be ready to commence a Needs or Requirements Analysis with the preferred supplier.  Note that the whole solution should not be committed to at this point, the right sort of partner will make sure a thorough process is completed before you commit, but this will be covered in a future post.

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