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Through Panorama’s work on a number of expert witness engagements, we have identified that a poor selection is a significant cause of most ERP implementation failures. ERP vendors may genuinely believe they have the best ERP solution for your organization. But, it is the project team’s responsibility to read between the lines. It is up to them to evaluate which candidates have ERP solutions that will best serve your organization’s unique culture, requirements and processes. Once you have done some research, your team may decide to invite the top contenders to demo their products to help you make your final selection.

ERP vendor demos are crucial activities to your team’s overall success. Without prior ERP experience, preparing for the demos is a daunting task. Below are some common mistakes we’ve identified:

Not setting expectations with vendors. Vendors should be provided with your organization’s unique ERP requirements prior to the demos. Make sure the vendors understand these requirements so that they are able to properly demo their software. Additionally, ensure that the vendors understand what to expect during the demos. If applicable, provide specific meeting times, instructions and guidelines.

Not properly preparing participants. Participants must also understand what to expect during the vendor demos. Provide an agenda ahead of time so they have adequate time to plan for their absence within their departments and teams. Ensure the participants understand what to evaluate during the demos and how to record their scores and feedback. Oftentimes, ERP vendors steer away from the demo agenda in order to showcase the special features of their solutions. The participants must be trained to recognize this so additional features, which are not relevant to your requirements, do not end up being factored into final scores. If your organization is working with an independent ERP consultant, they will effectively run demo sessions and train the participants on what to expect and look for.

Not providing a demo script. Both vendors and participants should receive the same demo script to review beforehand. The demo scripts will highlight specific requirements you are requesting the vendors to demonstrate and the participants to evaluate. This will ensure that everyone stays on the same page.

No method to measure results. Feedback from participants must be recorded in a way that the project team is able to analyze afterwards. Comments are not quantifiable so you must develop a scoring methodology for the participants. Make sure that everyone understands what each score represents and that you have a solid analysis process established to analyze the data.

Allowing inconsistent attendance. Make sure the participants understand that they are expected to be on time and attend the same sessions for each software vendor. Consistent attendance is important to ensure that scores are statistically relevant, reliable and fair.

A lot of prep work goes into guaranteeing successful demo sessions and an overall successful ERP selection. If your organization is in need of more direction, consider engaging expert assistance via an independent ERP consultant. This third-party will be familiar with best practices and can assist your team in documenting and validating requirements, preparing demo scripts and scoring methodology, analyzing demo results, and effectively preparing both the vendors and participants.