As we sat in a recent staff meeting I listened to one of our consultants who had just returned from facilitating software demonstrations for a client in the food distribution industry. She mentioned that after the demo of one particular vendor, they determined that the software did not meet their needs.
What is unusual about this case is that prior to engaging our services, this client had participated in a software demonstration by this same vendor and they thought this software was at the top of their list! The difference – they used a custom demo script that detailed the critical business processes and requirements and forced the vendor to show how they would solve the client’s requirements, not just the canned presentation they normally give.
During the first visit the software vendor was not required to follow any script and had free rein to show what they wanted. The showed the cool things about their software and reports which were very appealing to our client who was producing these reports manually. However, during the scripted software demonstration they found that these reports had no drill down capability as compared to other vendors that were being considered.
Another recent example was with a nonprofit client. During the software demonstrations the scripted demo allowed our client to see how user defined fields were set up with each software vendor. One vendor had a limited number of user defined fields, and they were not all searchable. Another vendor said that they offered user defined fields, but in order to create them there were a number of steps involved that made the use of these fields very difficult.
In each of these instances without the custom software demo script process, our clients would have missed key problem areas that were important to the decision making process. While software will never meet 100% of your requirements, as you follow the process for selecting software, including scripted demos, you will be able to get the information you need to make an informed software decision.