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ERP Best Practices: Do You Need a Proof of Concept Demo?

Your organization has been working hard to identify a new ERP solution for your business. You are considering a Proof of Concept Demo. Is the Proof of Concept Demo worth the time and expense? Do you really need to engage a software vendor or Value Added Reseller (VAR) in a Proof of Concept Demo? What exactly is a Proof of Concept demo anyhow?

Hopefully some of the suggestions from my last two blog posts “9 Tips to Quickly Identifying Your ERP Solution Faster” and the “9 Tips to Quickly Identifying Your ERP Solution Faster – Part 2″ provided some helpful tips to keep your company focused and in control of your ERP software selection process and software demonstrations up and to this point.

If you followed the tips from the previous blogs, your project team has managed the ERP software selection process from an organized, guided approach and invested a significant amount of time in identifying the best solution for your business; you were probably expecting that a final decision would have been made by now. After all, your project team has identified the best ERP solution for your business based on the requirements that each department provided; however your final decision makers are not 100% confident with the recommendation. As a result, it has been suggested that you engage the software vendor or Value Added Reseller (VAR) in a ‘Presales Proof of Concept Demo’

What exactly is a presales Proof of Concept Demo? Is it the same as a Conference Room Pilot (CRP)?

The presales Proof of Concept Demo is not the flashy presales demo designed to ‘wow’ you like those that we talked about (and hopefully you controlled) in “9 Tips to Quickly Identifying Your ERP Solution Faster – Part 2,″ but rather a demonstration that walks you through one or more critical business processes that are out of the ordinary.

The Proof of Concept Demo, also often referred to by other names including Deep Dive Demo and Business Process Demo, is built specifically around your data requirements and business processes. In most cases, the demo is researched, built, and delivered by a consultant rather than the systems engineer (SE). The objective of the presales Proof of Concept Demo is to prove that the software will meet your more challenging requirements and should be your final step in making a decision. Upon completion, your decision maker should have the confidence to sign on the dotted line.

Tip: The Proof of Concept Demo should not be confused with the ‘Proof of Concept (POC)’, ‘Pilot’ or ‘Conference Room Pilot (CRP)’ which are completed during the implementation phase.

The Proof of Concept Demo should not be confused with the ‘Proof of Concept (POC)’, ‘Pilot’ or ‘Conference Room Pilot (CRP)’ which are completed during the implementation phase. For our discussion purposes, the Proof of Concept Demo occurs prior to the software purchase and the Proof of Concept (POC), Pilot Demo and Conference Room Pilot (CRP) all occur after the software has been purchased. In a subsequent blog we will talk about the post-sale Proof of Concept (POC) and Pilot and the Conference Room Pilot (CRP).

Purpose and Value of a Proof of Concept Demo

The purpose of a Proof of Concept Demo is to take a deep dive into how the ERP software solution approaches one or more of your critical business processes that are out of the ordinary. In most cases, it will follow a critical business cycle or scenario, often involving multiple business processes and modules (i.e. Sales Orders, Purchase Orders, Inventory). The Proof of Concept demo does not integrate multiple scenarios into cross-functional testing.

Tip: A Proof of Concept Demo is not necessary for all purchase decisions, but is highly recommended when you have a non-standard business scenario.

An example of a scenario with a critical business process flow:

  • Your customer places an order for an inventory item.
  • To supply the inventory item, your business purchases several inventory items from one or more vendors, some with and some without lot numbers.
  • Manufacturing work needs to be done to those inventory items prior to them being bundled together into the final product, with a new inventory item number that is serial number tracked.

In the above example, you need an ERP solution that can pull the various inventory items together and assure all inventory items are located where and when they are needed, and you need the ability to track both lot genealogy and serial number assignment. As this atypical scenario is critical to your business operations, confirmation of the ERP solutions’ ability to meet your needs is imperative.

The value of a Proof of Concept becomes clear when one considers what would happen if your new ERP solution did not meet your unique requirements.
Kendra Kalimanis, President MIS

What would happen if your organization selected a system that did not meet your requirements; hence the value of a presales Proof of Concept Demo becomes clear. 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. It is important that your new ERP solution is able to meet those requirements on your go live date.

Tip: Don’t be deterred by custom modifications or custom reporting.

It may become evident during the Proof of Concept Demo that the ERP solution needs some custom modifications or custom reporting. Don’t let this be a deterrent. Tailoring the ERP solution to meet your needs and the ability to do so is important. You may be interested in reading Proof of Concept Demo Costs and Modifications to learn more about personalizations, modifications, and customizations.

As a side note, we find that software publishers aren’t as likely to agree to a presales Proof of Concept Demo as a Reseller is as they require a lot of work up front. Resellers are willing to dedicate a consulting resource to a presales project when the opportunity for winning your business is good and when they feel confident that the proposed system will meet your needs. Unlike a software publisher whose internal resources are often segregated between sales and services, Reseller resources are less constrained and often more flexible.

For additional reading about the Proof of Concept Demo, take a look at the following MIS blogs:

 

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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