How to plan for your ERP demo

Before that friendly representative from your favorite ERP provider shows up for a demonstration you need to be prepared. Here a few things to sort out beforehand.

Be clear on your needs

You and your team members will have met already to nail down your key ERP selection criteria. What do you need to help increase revenue and reduce costs, and how will an ERP help deliver this? These points are why you are even in the market and you must see all of these in your demonstration.

You should also have listed additional features that would be nice to have but are not absolutely required. These should be ranked in importance, and ideally you’d want to see as many of the top items as possible in a demonstration.

Draw up a script

ERP providers have standard demos ready. They have presented these to many prospects. You can be sure that these demos highlight all the points where this ERP considers itself strong and skips by any points where they know they are not competitive. Force them to show them what you want to see by sending out a script for them to follow, or by demanding their script in advance.

Recommended reading: get expert advice on planning for vendor ERP demos with this five-step guide to mastering the demo phase

Once you have the script in hand, rework it to meet your needs and interests. Make certain all your vital concerns will be shown. You might have team members who cannot be present for an entire demo. Rearrange the timing so that all members have a good chance to see their interests demonstrated in enough detail. Eliminate any time devoted to features you will not likely ever need.

Customization and integration

Many businesses will need to integrate their new ERP with systems they already use or are planning to purchase elsewhere. You could take a salesperson’s statement that it will all connect easily through web services. Better still, ask for a demonstration that displays what steps are needed for a simple integration.

Think of a customization you think you might want to use with the ERP. Ask for a demo that shows the steps to perform that customization and the desirable results.

Develop a scorecard

How well was a feature demonstrated? How closely does that feature seem to meet the needs? These are big, open questions and will require a uniform scorecard in order to evaluate effectively.

Some questions and criteria can be answered with a simple yes / no response. Others will need some kind of ranking scale. Be sure the score card covers all the vital features you have determined are important to you. Include the top points from the ‘nice to have’ list as well.

Now, use the scorecard. Rank each demo. Have your team participants rank all the demos. When the demos finish, you will be tired and you have them all floating in your mind in a kind of blur. The score cards you completed immediately after each demo will help you clear up that blur. Hard numbers might indicate the demo you liked best actually ranks lowest. The demo that scores highest is the one you should go for.

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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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