Four key questions to ask ERP vendors during the demo phase

When evaluating a potential ERP system for your business, you will ask questions of vendors throughout the process. Here are some suggestions for questions to ask them during the demo phase. Repeat for each shortlisted ERP.

1. Can we have your demonstration script in advance?

You want to stay in control of your ERP demos. The vendor will lead, but staying in control allows a chance to ensure your questions are addressed. Some ERP vendors will have vanilla demos that aim to showcase the strengths of their systems, but you have your own list of important criteria. Make certain that your important points are part of the demo. Further, there might be points in the demo that only pertain to a part of your selection team. Having the script in advance allows sales to skip the financial portion if they choose.

Recommended reading: get through the ERP demo phase and come out the other side unscathed with our step-by-step ERP selection survival guide.

2. How about an online demonstration?

Your time is valuable. If you can switch on and off the demonstration as your work day allows, you gain a great deal of flexibility. You also have the chance to watch some portions a second time. Many online demonstrations are essentially a crippled version of the real system. If you have one of these, you can try out transactions and get a feel for how well-constructed the system is, and whether it will work for you. This can be much more useful than watching someone else press the buttons and talk about their own points.

3. What downstream costs can I expect?

You might have already asked this before your ERP demo phase, but ask it again. The person conducting your demo could be a different salesperson than the one who answered the original question. There could be some new context for the question this time. No matter – the question is important and you do not want to be the one explaining the unexpected costs to your boss, and why it jeopardizes the ROI you forecasted.

4. How have other customers and prospect reacted to this demonstration?

Expect an honest, insightful reply to this one. Keep prodding until you get something useful. The ERP demonstrator probably has done this hundreds of times and met with that many businesses. They know what clicked and what didn’t. They know if development has fixed some perceived deficiencies and if other fixes are in process already. Someone else probably saw what you saw and wished it were different and maybe a change is coming soon enough it won’t be a problem for you and your business. Make the reply solid with reference names and contact information so you can follow up as needed.

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Tom Miller

About the author…

Tom completed implementations of Epicor, SAP, QAD, and Micro MRP. He works as a logistics and supply chain manager and he always looks for processes to improve. He lives near San Francisco Bay in California and can be found on the water in his kayak or on the road riding his motorcycle. Contact Tom at

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Tom Miller

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