You’re in the market for an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS). You’ve already put in the time determining your organization’s needs, researched the various options, and narrowed them down to a short list. Now comes the hard part - turning that short list into one.
Identifying which software solution will best fit your business needs is an important process that requires more than just viewing the product online and making a few phone calls. This is a partnership that will help guide the business through obstacles and successes for many years to come and should be regarded as such.
No worries though! With a little preparation and the help of a few trusted teammates, you can have a productive and informative software demonstration. To ensure you make the most of these software demos, we’ve put together a list of eight simple tips to follow.
By now, you should have pared down your list of potential software vendors to a manageable number. You will want to limit the demonstrations to between three and five companies. Any more than that and they will all start to blend together, further confusing the decision-making process.
Additionally, depending upon the vendor and the software package you’re looking to invest in, these demonstrations can take anywhere from hours to days. Think of all the missed opportunities and productivity lost if you and your teammates had ten demos to attend. Take the time beforehand to identify which vendors will best meet your needs and save the demos for getting to know the vendors and their software platforms.
If you’re still having trouble narrowing your list down, take a moment to read out blog 10 Questions You Should Ask Before Scheduling an IWMS Demo.
As the Workplace Manager, I know you’re constantly juggling multiple tasks. But your new software has the potential to improve organizational processes and save both money and time. So, be sure to schedule the demo in a quiet and distraction-free location. Put the mobile devices away and tell your assistant to hold all calls. Focus your energy on what’s in front of you, so you’re set up for making the most informed decision. Besides, you wouldn’t want to disrespect the vendor’s representative by taking a call in the middle of their presentation, right?
While you likely have a whole team of employees working on this implementation project, having too many people in the room can confuse things more than help. Trying to do it all on your own, however, isn’t a good idea either. Before you even schedule the demonstrations, have a clear understanding of who should be present and why. Once you’ve made your list of demo partners, schedule the meeting for a time that accommodates everyone’s busy schedules.
By the time you reach the demo phase, you should have already identified and articulated your business’ needs and what you’re hoping to accomplish with this new investment. Before your meeting, take a moment to review and clarify your goals, both for this project and for the business. This will prepare you for the next item on our list.
When scheduling the demo with each vendor, set up a brief phone call for a few days before the presentation. Without any guidance, many demonstrators tend to focus on the product features they like the most. This phone call is your opportunity to write the script, sharing the processes and features you’re most interested in learning about. Reiterating the business’ goals and needs with the representative beforehand will ensure the most informative demo possible.
What are your company’s business goals and how will your new software solution assist you in reaching those goals? What features do you want the tool to do? What specific features/modules are the most important and which are simply “nice to haves?”
Whether you’re viewing two demonstrations or five, things will likely start to get a little fuzzy after a while, making it difficult to remember specific details. To ensure your team is able to make an informed decision regarding which software features best support your needs, create a rating system.
By creating a standard scorecard for rating each package, you’re able to document your opinion of the software while it is still fresh in your mind. Additionally, your scorecard should outline the process script you discussed with the rep, so you’ll know if any key features are missed during the presentation.
This demonstration is akin to a job interview. Your goal is to identify the best fit for the business and its dynamic needs. Be involved, ask questions, and voice concerns. Share your history regarding past software tools, including successes and challenges. This is the type of information a professional vendor will want to hear.
Immediately following the software presentation, spend thirty minutes to an hour discussing what you and your teammates have learned. Encourage everyone to voice their opinions, share concerns, and ask questions. You chose them as part of your team for a reason, so utilize their skills and knowledge to the fullest.
”A good demo program combines readily accessible product and expertise – supported by a solid operational backbone -- to give customers the experience they need to understand, internalize and imagine the benefits of a vendor’s solution.”
The purpose of investing in a new software solution is to assist the organization in improving processes, increasing productivity, and reducing overall expenses. Many project teams fall into the trap of making their decision based on uninformed recommendations or quick evaluations. This is one of the most important decisions you will make for your company and will affect your workforce for many years to come. Don’t rush the selection process. Take the time to get to know the vendor, not just for their product, but for their ability and willingness to understand your business and its needs. Doing so will ensure a partnership that will help lead you towards a more effective and successful enterprise.
James McDonald is a sports enthusiast, brother in Christ and once swam in a tank with the infamous TV sharks.