ERP Software Demos – 7 Things to Watch Out For

ERP Software Demos – 7 Things to Watch Out For

ERP Software Demos are usually a key step in the process is evaluating ERP Software. This is usually performed by the software provider, but sometimes it is the value added reseller who demonstrates the software. There are usually two software demos provided by each vendor during the process.

The first step is an high-level demonstration of the overall look and feel of the software and it shows general functionality. This is usually to help you narrow down your list of prospective vendors.

The second ERP Software demonstration is very detailed and speaks directly to your unique software requirements. Ideally, you have provided a list of requirements and even better a demonstration script to the vendor that explains step-by-step what you want to see from the software.

We’ve compiled a list of seven items that you should watch out for when evaluating ERP software. These are common things to tune into when watching the software demonstration to ensure that you are getting to see the real software functionality in action.

ERP Software Demos
6 Things to Watch Out for in ERP Software Demos. Click Image to schedule your free ERP Software demos

ERP Software Demos – key things to watch for

1. Tell, but no show

Vendors tell you, but do not show you

One of the most often used tricks in demos is where the vendor discusses a requirement and yet does not show how the system works. You should enforce a demonstration of the methods that the software uses to fulfill the requirements. Often this maybe on oversight on the person demonstrating the software, but many times this could be a very difficult process that they don’t want to show you.

2. Unnatural fit to requirements

Vendors spend time working on getting your requirements to work in the demo but, does it feel natural that it can be done in “real life”?

Often a complex requirement can be done by the system, but it takes a number of “unnatural acts” to make it work in real life. This is a red flag for a process problem. There are two solutions, one is that you adapt the business process of the software, or two, you live with the complex processing in order to fit your business method. If you think you can live with the software process, then mark this down as a good function. If you cannot live with the software’s best practice and you must use your process, resulting in a work around method in the software, then consider this feature as a negative response to your requirement.

3. The “herky jerky” ERP Software Demo

The speed of the demo changes with certain functionality

This can be related to number 2 above. This is more a feeling to the flow of the software. An unaturally paced demonstration usually means that there are some features that the software does not do well. Sometimes it relates to your evaluating user’s questions. Be aware of the pace and determine if the unnatural flow is due to software issues or some factor in your demonstration script.

Many times the vendor will ask if they change the order of the demonstration script to fit the flow of the software. This is usually okay, so long as they have hit upon all the areas that your script requires. If you limit them to sticking strictly to your script, then you may end up with an unusual flow to your demonstration.

4. “Its in the next release!”

Vendors offer solutions that are they are not able to show

This is a classic ERP Software Demos maneuver. Your requirements cannot be fulfilled by the current revision of the software, but the vendor assures you that it is slated for the next release. According to them, this will be available by the time you go live on the software. This is often true, but keep in mind that new release features often bring bugs with them and are not as polished as older functionality. Further, you may end up being the first ones to use this new functionality. Just keep this mind and consider using this as a point of negotiation, or simply document these features for your reference so that during the implementation you can keep track of when these items will actually be released. It is not uncommon for something that is slated for next release to be bumped and postponed until a later release.

5. How can I get there from here?

Vendors fly around the screens, but there is little sense to how they are navigating

Many systems have shortcut keystrokes. You sometimes can type in a short code and the screen will jump to another window. Or, the code is a numeric value representing the screen you want to go to. So the real question is how useful is this to the typical user within your company? Will they be able to grasp the jumping around shortcuts or will they rely on the navigation menus. Are the menus cumbersome? Often these shortcuts are implemented in systems where the navigation is not so straightforward. Test a few use cases out on how a typical clerical person might get around in their daily work. Good systems allow you to create custom menus for individual users.

6. Great feel getting data in, but can’t get data out

Overall feel to the software: is it efficient, can you see yourself using it on a daily basis, and does it provide the information you need?

Often you will run across a great ERP software. The look and feel is good and your users will really like it. But the question is, can you get the information you need out of it? How are the lookup screens? How are the data views (information providing screens)? You need to be careful of systems that require all data inquiries in the system to be only output as a report. Ask the vendor to demonstrate things such as an A/R or A/P account information screen, or Supplier/Customer profile screens. How easy is it to see on-screen the data you need to run your business? How easy will it be to answer customer inquiries?

7. The mystery reporting system

Input screens, Output screens and Reports

This is closely related to number 5 above. There are some ERP systems that don’t have a native reporting system and require you to use Crystal Reports, or some other tool to get at your data. Be aware of this and be sure to have a demonstration of the reporting system. Don’t look solely at the reports themselves, but find out how easy or hard it will be to create and organize custom reports. This is especially true of financial reports as they often have their own report writer separate from the main system report writer.

ERP Software Demos Summary

Lastly, if you are in the process of looking at vendors and deciding who you should have in your ERP Software Demos, you should look at this free vendor analysis tool from that helps you evaluate the best vendors for your company. Also be sure to check out’s ERP Vendor Directory to find candidate vendors for your ERP Software Selection.

ERP Software Demos – Anything else?

Any other useful ERP Software Demos tips? Please post your comments below.

ERP Software Demos
ERP Software Demos

Implementing ERP Systems begins with the Selection

Chris Shaul

There are two major parts to implementing an ERP system, the selection and the implementation. The selection of the correct software is key to implementation. Selecting the wrong software can kill an implementation or at least make the project very expensive and overrun the budget. Be careful when selecting a new system. There are basic steps to a system selection.

Systems selection entails first detailing your requirements. You can do this in a spreadsheet that is divided into various worksheets for each business function. Then identify the critical success factors that the system must meet in order to be successful. You will also want to document your basic business flow to get a product or service to the client. This should be from the initial contact to the client paying for the product or service. Once you have this criteria, then you can begin looking at software.

To find the best software, you can use google to search for the vertical market place of software that you belong to. For example, you can use the search “manufacturing erp” or “distribution erp” to find the candidate software systems.

Draw up a long list of about 10 vendors that sound like they have the modules and features that you are looking for. Then start calling these vendors and talk to them. You can even arrange web demonstrations for you to get a look and feel of the software. Of course every vendor will tell you that they are the best and that they can answer every one of your needs. The trick is to have them demonstrate your requirements through a business flow of your own design.

After discussing your needs, you should have a good idea of the capabilities of the vendor. Some you will be impressed by and some you will not want to speak to again. Develop a short list of 2 to 4 vendors. Then develop a scripted demo for them to provide to you. The key is for you to develop the demonstration, not the vendor. They will only show you their best features. You want to see them demonstrate your business process.

Once you have seen the vendor’s demonstration, then you can check references and negotiate pricing. The key things to remember is that you must have your own requirements defined and the vendor must demonstrate your business flow. If they are successful in meeting your requirements and showing you that it can work, then they can be a viable candidate and you can feel somewhat assured that you are going to implement a software that is compatible with your business.

Chris Shaul is a Sr. IT Consultant and specializes about ERP selections and implementations.