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What You Need to Know About Proof of Concept Demo Costs and Modifications

The Proof of Concept Demo is the final demonstration in the software selection process, and as discussed in my previous blog, ERP Best Practices: Do You Need a Proof of Concept Demo?, not all companies need a Proof of Concept Demo to make their final decision. The determining factor for the Proof of Concept Demo is whether or not your company has out of the ordinary business processes, and if they do, then a Proof of Concept Demo is highly recommended.

As mentioned in a previous blog, ERP Best Practices: Do You Need a Proof of Concept Demo?, a Value Added Reseller may be more enthusiastic about working with your organization on the Proof of Concept Demo than would the actual software vendor due to the significant time investment involved; if a reseller believes their solution is the right solution for your organization, they are generally more willing to allocate the time to work with your organization on the Proof of Concept Demo (resellers resources are often more flexible and less tied to sales revenue goals than those of a software vendor).

Proof of Concept Demo Costs

Being on the purchasing side of the transaction you may think that the Proof of Concept Demo should be free as it is part of the sales process. Yes, it is part of the sales process, however it requires that the software vendor or reseller engage their consulting resources to create a very specific demonstration based on your unique business requirements.

The Proof of Concept Demo is not the standard overview demonstration designed to ‘wow’ your decision makers.

The Proof of Concept Demo is not the standard overview demonstration designed to ‘wow’ your decision makers, but rather a pointed demonstration designed specifically to address your primary concerns, often using your company data to process your unique business transactions. Setting up a highly customized software demonstration takes time, and while the fees charged rarely cover the costs involved with the process, you will be charged for this service.

In planning your Proof of Concept Demo, you might assume that doing some of the legwork internally will save money during the process. Your project team could write the demonstration script instead of hiring the software vendor or reseller to do so. When the thought crosses your mind however, remember that you are not only seeing if the software can handle your unique business processes, but if you’re like most companies, you are probably looking for other improvements as well – cost reductions, improved business processes, gains in efficiencies, etc. If you task your internal staff to write your demonstration scripts, then you are doing yourself a disservice. The consultant is the product and technology expert and allowing them to create the demonstration script gives them the opportunity to create a solution to your unique business processes while incorporating today’s modern technologies. So unless your goal is to replicate what you already do today, do take a step back and let the product expert do their job from start to finish.

Personalizations, Modifications or Customizations

Your Proof of Concept demo may require some modifications by the software vendor or value added reseller because again, your processes are not standard. For an example of a process that would involve customizations, please read my previous blog, ERP Best Practices: Do You Need a Proof of Concept Demo?

“One week you paint the wall white, and the next week you paint the wall black.”

 – Former ERP Software Excutive

 

Depending on the requirement, different types of customizations may be needed. At MIS, we categorize them as personalizations, modifications, or customizations.

  • Personalizations can be accomplished by the user or for the user with standard software settings. Typical personalizations are screen colors, column/grid orders, or even form modifications like hiding fields, changing tab orders, or setting defaults.
  • Modifications also use standard software tools but are often delivered by an IT person or developer who may be one of your employees. Feature enhancements, work flow development, report modifications, dashboard development, and the like are generally accomplished through modifications. In the early days of ERP, an executive of a company once said to me, “One week you paint the wall white, and the next week you paint the wall black.” Modifications let you change the wall colour.
  • Customizations differ from modifications as they modify source code and may or may not be preserved through software updates. Customizations are source code changes that are provided by the software vendor or resellers development staff. 

What Happens if your Proof or Concept Demo Requires Personalizations, Modifications or Customizations

Personalizations and modifications are often included in the Proof of Concept Demo and should be welcomed as part of the process in understanding the full features and functionality available. Modifications may range from very simple, like hiding fields on a form, to very complex like completely recreating a data input screen with new data elements. Remember, modifications will increase your efficiency.

Customizations are possible, however feature enhancements requiring source code changes are probably unlikely. If the consultant you are working with suggests customizations are needed, you may plan to have them designed or developed as part of, or in advance of the Proof of Concept demonstration. Don’t forget this is only a Proof of Concept, and keep in mind that you may identify an alternative way of meeting your business requirement during your implementation cycle.

As a final note, this blog is a continuation of previous blogs that covered the process of identifying an ERP solution and the Proof of Concept Demo.

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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