Three things to bear in mind during ERP demonstrations

You have planned some excellent ERP demos and have appointments with desirable, promising vendors. You have managed to get them to use your script. Now you need to think about who should be there, and what you should ask then?

1. Ensure the right people attend

Look back to why you are looking at a new ERP. If our primary motive is to be able to accept orders faster and to deliver them in a shorter time, then sales and production people must attend. If your customers demand improvements in production quality systems, the necessary audience changes. So, there is no simple answer to the question of who should attend.

Some will want to be there because they want to play a part in the new ERP regardless of their disciplines. Some, like the executive sponsor, the project manager, and the person(s) who champions the new ERP must attend. Leaders of sub teams should attend but they might attend only parts of the demonstration depending on your own company culture. If there are unwritten rules determining who should be there, by all means, follow those rules. For example, if one vice president never comes to demonstrations - and that fact is widely acknowledged and accepted - there’s only so much you can do to persuade them.

Recommended reading: make the most out of your vendor presentations with this step-by-step guide to mastering the ERP demo process.

2. Ask the right questions

Make sure the questions asked during the ERP demo provide complete clarity on how the ERP will help your business. If production jobs require too much effort and overhead, you want to KNOW through demonstration and conversation that the new ERP is really easier to use. If your best customer wants a portal or other method to enter their own orders into your ERP, be sure the vendor demonstrates this, and that you ask enough questions to understand how it works and how much effort will be required. Determine whether the solution will be acceptable on both sides.

Some questions will be to help understand the flow of work. You might be satisfied your group’s work can be done well. But, what about your internal customers? Will the ERP provide them the results required? What about your internal suppliers? Can the ERP help provide what your group needs?

Arrange to have some questions asked by more than one person during the demonstration. We all have selective perception. The accountant could have heard a completely different response than was heard by the engineer.

Plan questions ahead of the demo. This way some important point is unlikely to be overlooked as the conversation moves between your team and the demonstrators. Remember that there are no stupid questions. If one person needs more depth, another person almost certainly does too but might not have found a good time to insert their question.

3. Focus on what’s important

Be sure that all present take notes. After demonstrations by several ERP providers, you want to be able to accurately remember which one answered the question best.

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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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