An ERP system demonstration can be challenging — as well as frustrating — for both a manufacturing company entering into an ERP selection project, as well as the ERP vendor.
For the manufacturer, it’s a challenge to form a solid feel for the capabilities a vendor’s system before a demonstration is even scheduled. The manufacturer must be well informed as to the features and functions of a vendor’s proposed solution, as well to their approach to implementation. The team must also develop a good understanding of the vendor’s company, approach to technology, services, industry expertise and other background to make a meaningful decision.
The vendor is often challenged to understand the manufacturer’s full operation and business need. Typically, prior to a demo, we find that an ERP selection team has had limited email or phone contact with the vendor. It’s rare that vendor has even conducted an on-site discovery visit as a way to learn the business processes and meet the ERP project team.
Setting the Foundation for an Effective ERP System Demonstration
This preliminary “Pre-Demonstration” work outlined above is quite important, and when executed well, sets the foundation for an effective ERP selection project.
It’s our perspective that the pre-demo discovery should provide enough data and shared understanding for both the manufacturer and the vendor to create a relevant and effective demo script that focuses on what the manufacturer is searching for in a new ERP system.
However, we find this is a rare occurrence. What is more typical is that the manufacturing company can’t spare the time or effort to have meaningful dialogue with the vendor before the demo. In many cases the manufacturer has not fully articulated a future state for their business processes. Needs are not clearly defined, there are missed opportunities, and the vendor does not have a clear understanding of the current state of processes, or how their systems can help a manufacturer achieve the future, desired state.
Methods for Effective Vendor Demonstrations
There are specific methods to achieving an effective vendor demonstration, one that yields a dramatic payback for the manufacturing company. Ultra Consultant team members have extensive experience guiding the pre-demo discovery process in the following ways:
- Conducting a thorough definition of the current state business process to identify waste, bottlenecks, and inefficiencies – as part of business process improvement services.
- Thoroughly documenting the manufacturer’s pain points in each process by direct observation and deep dive with the ERP project team.
- Facilitating discussion workshops and education sessions with the ERP project team on what a modern ERP system can do for them.
- Establishing a “future state” business process.
- Guiding the ERP project team in initial web-based demonstrations working through the definition of the manufacturer’s future state.
- Understanding the idiosyncrasies of the manufacturer’s culture as well as how each member of the project team views the selection process and what is important to each member.
The result of this process is a demonstration script tightly focused on the manufacturer’s needs and desires from a new ERP system.
With this tightly focused demonstration script and coaching from the Ultra consultant the vendor has the needed insight to showcase the strength of their solutions as best serves the ERP project team. And most importantly, the manufacturer has the required detail to understand which systems deserve review, and to clearly see how each solution will address their needs.
An upcoming post will continue looking at what it takes to achieve maximum payback from an ERP system demonstration, especially as it relates to gaining an understanding of each manufacturing company’s culture.
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