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ERP Best Practices: Building the Proof of Concept Demo and Managing Expectations

What would happen if your organization selected a system that did not meet your business requirements? Management would not be happy and your software selection project would not be a success. My previous blog, ERP Best Practices: Do You Need A Proof of Concept Demo? we discussed how the Proof of Concept Demo offers assurance to both your team and final decision makers that the software can meet your core requirements and critical business processes. We discussed the importance of your new ERP solution being able to meet your goals and requirements on your go live date. Also, even though there are slight variations as to how a Proof of Concept Demo can be approached, the core process is basically the same; each software vendor will have their recommended methodology based on best practices.

MIS, an Epicor Gold Partner, follows Epicor’s Signature Methodology, a highly structured and proven implementation methodology with multiple stages beginning with an in-depth analysis of your business requirements and ending with your company using Epicor’s ERP solution in your day to day operations.

Building the Proof of Concept Demo

When we build a Proof of Concept Demo, we follow the same discovery process and methodology as the implementation project will, just on a smaller scale. The process of gathering base requirements as outlined in the “9 Tips to Quickly Identifying Your ERP Solution Faster” is applied to a single business cycle rather than the entire enterprise.

If you followed the “9 Tips to Quickly Identifying Your ERP Solution Faster” from the beginning of your ERP software selection process your project team started by meeting with departmental managers and functional experts to learn about their requirements and top priorities; these requirements were then further prioritized for the organization as a whole. Next your team attended sales demonstrations of various ERP solutions which did not include your out of the ordinary business requirements (these processes may have been touched upon conceptually but actual demonstrations were not provided). You’ve narrowed your ERP selection down to one vendor, however a Proof of Concept Demo is necessary to make your final decision; if the software can meet your out of the ordinary needs, then your organization will be ready to move forward with purchasing and implementing the ERP solution.

Prior to the presales Proof of Concept Demo the vendor or reseller will take a deeper dive into your unique business processes as the Proof of Concept Demo involves the vendor developing a demonstration that goes beyond the basic concepts and flow previously demonstrated. The Proof of Concept demo, a highly customized demonstration of your business processes within the ERP solution, uses a copy of your company data, and often involves some creativity as again, your processes are not the norm.  In preparation for your Presales Proof of Concept Demo, your project team and (typically) assigned consultant will be tasked to expand the business requirement definitions previously gathered. In effect, the consultant will conduct a mini business process review (BPR – more on BPR’s in a later blog!). During this time, be sure to provide and discuss the following as each is critical to building up the demonstration:

  • Process Specific Data such as sample parts, bill of materials, project configurations, schedule requirements, etc.
  • Reports used by your users, managers, and/or outside parties.
  • Workflow documentation.
  • A discussion on what works today and any pain points you may have.

Managing Expectations

The better your consultant understands your process, the better your presales Proof of Concept demo will be. At the same time, this is a balancing act. You want to see how the new ERP solution will meet your business requirements; you should NOT request or want to see an exact replication of how you’re doing things today. Instead, allow your consultant some flexibility to be creative in matching the ERP solution and its underlying technologies to improve your existing processes.

Tip: Allow your consultant some flexibility to be creative in matching the ERP solution and its underlying technologies to improve your existing processes.

Even though this can be a time-consuming process don’t skimp on providing enough data samples and process flow information to your consultant.

Depending on the process, the consultant may request:

  • A walkthrough of your operation.
  • Time to document your business process.
  • Time to review actual reports and configurations
  • Request to see a sample product.

Using the Information gathered, the consultant will most often build up a full demonstration system that will include:

  • Customer Specific Demo Data based on the provided sample parts, bill of materials, project configurations, schedule requirements, etc.
  • Building or customizing reports, dashboards, and /or workflow, and
  • Preparing a demonstration script.

The goal and purpose of the Proof of Concept Demo is to provide your organization insight on one way the critical business issue can be handled by the ERP solution.

Whereas there may be multiple ways for the ERP solution to handle your unique business requirements, the goal and purpose of the Proof of Concept Demo is to provide your organization insight on one way the critical business issue can be handled by the ERP solution. Remember, the goal is to show you that the software can meet your requirements; the goal is not to demonstrate the various options for meeting your requirement, that discussion comes into play during the actual implementation process. The orchestration of a Proof of Concept Demo is time consuming and the value is in proving the software can meet your requirements so you are able to make your purchasing decision with the utmost confidence.

 

Karen Beaulieu

Karen Beaulieu has worked in the ERP software industry for over 15 years. Having worked in a variety of roles from product development, channel and direct sales to marketing, Karen has a unique understanding and perspective of the ERP software industry. Currently Karen works in a marketing capacity for MIS Consulting & Sales and MIS Solutions Canada, ULC.

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