Understanding the Vendor Demo Process

After assisting multiple clients with the system selection process I always get a bit surprised when the process seems to bog down the closer we get to the demo.  Historically, we spend a lot of time in Discovery, interviewing staff and collecting requirements.  Then we create a RFI or RFP so we can evaluate the vendors in order to invite the strongest three (3) vendors to demo.

Once the RFP is completed, we usually begin working on the demo script.  Often I do get queries from a client as to why we need the script and just don’t schedule the vendor in to “show us the system.”  After some discussion, everyone usually begins to understand that you would not take a trip without a good map or plan, and that is exactly what the demo script will provide.  It assures that those attending the demo will see the same functionality from each vendor and be able to better compare each vendors system performance.

The demo script for any system should be created in a life cycle flow.  For an PR/HR system, as an example, you would start with recruiting, then to employment, to benefits, compensation, Payroll and on through the termination process.  Then you can look at reporting and system set-up.  I usually suggest that there be an agenda for each section of the demo so various members of staff can come into the demo on features which will impact their area of responsibility.  The one thing I normally stress with a client is that everyone be in the same sections for all demos.

Usually I recommend that items on the demo script also be weighted with a priority.  This allows you to weight the scoring after the demo is done and put more focus on the items which are critical to the running of the company.  It does help in creating a Vendor Comparison Report which will show in one page the major areas of the demo and how well each vendor did to the requirements.  The Vendor Comparison Report and the Decisions Drivers are usually the key elements used to select the vendor of choice.

There is a lot of activity going on during the development of the demo script and coordinating the actual demo. I recommend that companies look at using an outside resource from HRchitect to assist with these tasks.  This resource will allow the full client team to be focused on the demo and not on the administration.  If you have any questions about the demo, be sure to ask your HRchitect representative on how they can help make the demo a smooth process.

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