Preparing yourself and your team for a vendor demonstration
Getting ready for a demonstration is an extremely important activity, since you’ll be evaluating a system that is going to be used to help you operate your business for many years to come.
Assemble The Team
Form a team of people who are intimately involved in the use of your current systems and workflows and who can clearly articulate the problems they are having. Commit these statements to paper for review by others.
Before deciding on which vendors to call in, you must do your due diligence and research the systems that are available and that you feel most closely match your needs.
The most important part of preparing for the demonstration is to identify all your problem areas and pain points that you have in your current business workflow and exactly what needs to be fixed. Conducting individual research, as well as having the group discussions about these pain points, will get everyone on the same page and render a list which is probably very complete. Clearly define your requirements and specify what it is that you need the new system to do.
Convey your needs and other pain points to a representative of the company that is giving the demonstration. In this way they will be able to highlight the elements of the demonstration and make them most meaningful to you.
Make a Scorecard
To assist in the evaluation and to provide a level playing field for all the contenders, it may be very helpful to construct a basic scorecard. Included in this document would be a method of simple evaluation of both basic and advanced needs, so that the results can be compiled easily. There should also be room for additional notes.
Try to have a core group attend the demo and then, immediately afterward, conduct a de-briefing. That insures that everyone is fresh in their impressions. Someone should be assigned to compile the notes and overall rating.
Choosing the Vendors
After you have done your research, it is necessary to whittle down your list so that you are reviewing only the top tier of vendors that you think will fulfill your needs. Any vendors that are on the second tier can be reviewed later on if necessary. The top tier of vendors are the ones that you will have returning for an “in-depth” review, or what some call a “Deep-Dive” Demo.
Don’t let the initial pricing of a system be the primary component driving your decision. What really matters is the TCO, or total cost of ownership of the system yearly and the total amount that a truly integrated system will save in time and labor and all the intangible benefits that accrue to the company that acquires a truly effective project management system.
Next time there will be a series of questions that you should be able to ask and then answer about any system being evaluated.