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The Buyer’s Corner: A Case Study on Managing ERP Demonstrations

In this case study, we offer three tips that can help your company give its ERP demonstration phase the due diligence treatment it requires.

By way of background, our client operates three manufacturing and distribution facilities. The facilities are located in three states and across two time zones. In terms of its ERP selection project, the client had entered the demonstrations phase with a short-list of three potential alternatives, narrowed down from a long-list of 12. Each of the short-listed software vendors was allocated two days to demonstrate its product.

Key Challenge

Our client’s biggest obstacle was ensuring that, at the conclusion of the demonstrations phase, it would be in a position to make an informed assessment of each of the alternatives. In terms of its assessment, the client wanted to be able to measure the short-listed ERP solutions according to how well each would be capable of meeting specific requirements tied to its business needs.

Three Key Elements of a Successful ERP Demonstrations Phase

Our client overcame this key obstacle by focussing on three critical elements: people, preparation and evaluation.

1) People. Our client formed a selection team that included executives and key representatives from all functional departments. Each representative was responsible for defining and evaluating the ERP alternatives from the perspective of their respective departments.

2) Preparation. Our client drafted very specific demonstration scripts that each vendor was required to follow. The scripts defined a typical order-to-cash scenario. The scripts also included scenarios intended to simulate the business processes that are key to our client’s operations. Our client even provided the vendors with sample parts specifications, pricing lists, BOMs, suppliers and customers to be used as the raw data. By defining realistic and detailed scenarios, our client was able to evaluate how well each system handled its critical business processes.

3) Evaluation. Our client made evaluation a team affair. First, it resolved certain logistical issues caused by the distributed nature of its team. It used a combination of web and video conferencing so that 15 people in three states and two time-zones could participate in the demonstrations in real-time. Then, it made effective use of meetings to evaluate the alternatives. Each team member was required to provide his or her views on which of solutions would be the right fit for their department.

By employing a methodology based on people, preparation and evaluation, our client managed a successful ERP demonstrations phase. Though the client found the right-fit system, this result isn’t what made the phase a success. Arguably, the phase would have also been a success had the client determined that none of the solutions would be a good fit. Rather, the demonstrations phase was a success because our client put itself in a position to perform meaningful due diligence that related the software’s capabilities to its business needs.

Your REQs (Relevant Experiences and Questions)

  • What tips can you offer from your demonstrations phase?
  • What measures were taken to ensure that selection team members provided meaningful contributions?
  • What was good / less good about your demonstration scripts?

Also published at CompareBusinessProducts

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