Once you’ve evaluated your ERP providers through the use of an RFI, or similar process, you should now be in a position to get into a serious level of detail with your potential ERP partners.
ERP software is incredibly expansive and in most cases can be tailored to suit your specific organisations requirements. With that in mind, to ensure you get the most from a demonstration, it’s important to spend some time with your shortlisted ERP partners. This will ensure they have a good understanding of your business and its processes so they can prepare to demonstrate how the software could work specifically within your organisation. This will make it much easier for you to make informed decisions on the capability of the software, but on the knowledge of the consultants that will be delivering the implementation itself.
The discovery meeting is a very important part of the process that will help both you and your prospective ERP partners prepare for the demo. Depending on the complexity of your organisation and the partners you’re speaking to, it’s likely they will each want to spend anywhere from 2 hours to a full day with you, finding out about your organisation and current system and processes.
Although not a necessity, some organisations find it helpful to prepare a short presentation that they can deliver to each prospective partner during each discovery meeting. This covers information about their organisation and the markets they serve, as well as information on the systems they currently use and processes they follow. Showing visuals or even a quick demonstration of your existing systems can be a really useful way for partners to get an understanding of how you operate.
Providing a tour of your facility would also be useful at this point, allowing plenty of time for partners to ask questions so they can ensure they have plenty of information on how your organisation operates and what your objectives are.
The discovery meeting is one of the key elements of preparing for the ERP demo for both you and the ERP partner. Before the discovery meeting concludes, you need to agree on what you wish the ERP partner to demo. We recommend the same 2-4 scenarios are given to each partner and that you provide a selection of your data (2-4 records will usually suffice) in order for them to prepare for the demo. Give the ERP partners plenty of time to prepare for the demo.
During the discovery meeting you might also want a high level demonstration of the software – just a quick overview of its capabilities and a quick look at the interface.
What processes do you want them to demonstrate?
In order to get the most from the demo itself, you need to agree in advance with the ERP partners what you wish to see during a demonstration. Selecting a few key processes that you want to see a demonstration of tends to work well and will give you an opportunity to see how each ERP system you’re looking at compares. It’s likely that the ERP vendors will ask you for some sample data that they can use (part numbers, supplier records etc.). It’s likely that they will require at least 2 weeks to prepare the demo, possibly even more, so take this into an account when you’re checking your team’s availability to sit in on a demo.
The demo itself
Having the partners demonstrate the same key processes for you will not only give you a good indication of how the software might work out but you can also gauge how well they know the software and get some insight into how well they’ve understood your requirements!
Plenty of time should be given at the end of the demo for you to ask questions. You may require an additional followup demo to look at a specific area of the software again so don’t be afraid to ask for this – it’s a big investment for you so it’s important you’re 100% sure in your decision with both the software and the implementation partner.
If you like the software but don’t have faith in the organisation that would be delivering your implementation then it might be wise to get another partner involved.