Software demos suck. ERP demos suck even more. They suck for everyone irrespective of which side of the table you are on. While scripted demos reduce the transition for ERP buyers like you, they are not best suited to identify the right ERP software for your business, which is the core purpose of an ERP demo. This article will help you learn why scripted demos aren’t the best and what you can consider instead.
If you are not familiar with a scripted demo concept, it is one of the critical steps of the ERP purchase process to demonstrate the capabilities of an ERP system.
To prepare for this demo, your consultant might ask you to share a sample dataset that may consist of a set of items, customers, and vendors. They would use this dummy data and a few basic scenarios to configure a demo instance. This step would help align the expectations of the demo meeting.
Typically a scripted demo could be between 4-8 hrs depending upon how much time you want to spend with each ERP vendor.
During the demo, it is nearly impossible to cover each scenario in detail, which could also be overwhelming for your audience, especially if you are newer to ERP systems.
As a result and as part of these demos, ERP consultants typically like to cover only basic processes such as order-to-cash or procure-to-pay. Or they might show how to manufacture one of your products in the new ERP system.
The scripted demos aren’t the best reflective of the capabilities of an ERP system as basic processes tend to be similar in most ERP systems. The critical differentiator among ERP systems is their planning capabilities.
With so many details thrown your way as part of ERP demos with each vendor, you are likely to be confused, and you might end up choosing a misfit ERP system based on the performance of the presenter or their understanding of your business.
These factors are essential but not as critical as selecting the right ERP system for your business.
The frustration with scripted demos is not new. Due to the lack of alternatives, they are still widely used during the ERP purchase process.
Some ERP vendors with smaller, prescriptive products have recently started sharing a sandbox to try their product. While this approach could be an excellent alternative for more straightforward products, it may not work for more extensive, highly customizable products.
The sophisticated counterparts require a bit of training before you could use them. Just because you are not able to use such products doesn’t mean that they could be any inferior or perceived as hard-to-use. It just means that you need to be trained on them.
For some ERP vendors, this approach may not even be feasible as provisioning an instance and granting access to it could be highly expensive, and they might not be able to provide it during the sales process. You might lose on a fantastic product just because they cannot share a sandbox in this approach.
Therefore, trying ERP systems in a sandbox is not a viable alternative for a scripted demo.
With the advancement of remote technologies such as Zoom, a new pattern has emerged among recent customers with the request for a collaborative demo.
A collaborative demo refers to a process where you, as a demo attendee, use the system while your consultant guiding you using annotations (check #7 in this article if you are not familiar with the concept of annotations).
Your consultant would click each annotation to guide you where they want you to click. You would then follow it by actually performing that operation on a live system–similar to “assisted driving” in the real world.
Irrespective of whether you prefer to meet in an in-person setting or virtual, this approach could be equally helpful. You don’t have anyone watching your shoulder as you are using the system but still getting enough guide stick to maneuver around the system.
A collaborative demo uses the best practices of a scripted demo, such as aligning on the dataset and scenarios and the overall flow of the meeting.
The only difference between a collaborative and a scripted demo is that rather than you watching your consultant drive, you drive yourself with assistance.
For a collaborative demo to be successful and for your team to get an immersive experience, you need to ensure that most of your team members use the system in turn. So, they can compare how each of the systems feels, or maybe come back for more of these sessions to refine their understanding once they are through their initial comparison.
Our recent collaborative demos have been widely successful as the customers don’t have to sit through boring monologues of eight hours. The workshop-style collaboration encourages participation from your users and helps them better understand the concepts while appreciating deeper capabilities of various systems.
A collaborative demo is an excellent replacement for a scripted demo. You can even argue that it is just a better version of a scripted demo. Collaborative demos can help you understand and appreciate the system capabilities better.
The best part about collaborative demos is that you will no longer feel that the ERP demos suck. They could be enjoyable if done right.
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