At a glance, evaluating software can seem like a simple task: Find a software that seems to fit your needs, call the vendor and have a representative conduct a demo. By following this method, you are guaranteed to see several impressive software solutions, but you are not likely to find one that truly fits your needs.
To find your best fit, it is important to take control of the demo process. The objective is to compare several different software solutions “apples to apples” on how they can meet your business needs. A perfect execution of software demos not only requires preparing the software vendors, but also preparing staff that will be participating in the demos. Below are the top 4 things to remember to be successful.
1. Create detailed business scenarios
Business scenarios are the processes and requirements that lay the foundation for a company’s software selection. These are the functions included in the demo scripts provided to vendors and will be shown during the demo. Watching multiple software packages running through the same processes in the same amount of time, allows companies to evaluate vendors “apples to apples”
2. Demo training
It is equally important to empower staff to assist in the “apples to apples” decision making. To do this, make sure to provide employees with the demo script and agenda so they know when the vendor is going off topic, or not presenting what was asked. This will enable staff to provide meaningful feedback on the survey’s. Also, instruct them to keep a “poker face”, even if the new system is dazzles them.
3. Demo survey
Feedback from end users should be a driver in your software selection. To capture this information, it is helpful to have each user fill out a web survey ranking the software directly after the demo’s, that can be used in later analysis.
4. Bring in some competition
Companies go through the selection process to find a software that fits their needs. Only demoing one software and making a decision by default does not ensure a best fit. It is important to demo at least 2-3 vendors to provide competition between them and give demo participants a chance to compare systems.
Remember, evaluate the software capabilities rather than the vendor performance. When the demos are over, your daily life and work flow will depend on the software, not the best performing vendor. The steps above should help you achieve the necessary “apples to apples comparison.”