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Too many demos, too much perfume
16 September 2008, by , in Data Management, 4 comments

When I work with clients on system selection (or when I’m presenting on this topic), I point out that one of the objectives of the process is to minimize the number of software demos we actually have to sit through.

Software demos are one of the most expensive steps in the system selection process, because they take a lot of time to prepare for, and require a lot of time from a lot of staff. When you calculate all the staff hours put into organizing and attending a software demonstration, the price runs up pretty quickly.

The second problem with too many software demos is that after seeing two or three, all of the products and demos start to run together. As one of my clients put it, “It’s like trying too many perfumes at the cosmetic counter.” And while I’m not prone to trying any perfume at the cosmetic counter, she’s exactly right. After about the third perfume, the smells all blend together, and you really have no idea which one you liked or didn’t. And so it is for software demos.

So if you’re working through the system selection process, be sure to minimize, as much as possible, the number of different software products you actually look at. You’ll come out smelling much better.

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  • Mark S

    The most expensive step are consultants who help generate the RFP and guide the association throught the selection process.

    As a vendor, I worked on projects where I was amazed at how much the consultant changed to help tailor boilerplate RFP verbiage.

  • Mark, clearly you weren’t working with *my* clients. 😉

  • Bob Nedbal

    I agree that managing the number of demos is an important consideration. But, I would note that the most important thing by far in a major system selection is knowing your requirements. Best practices would say review three products in detail if you can afford the time. Dig in to really understand with clarity how much the product meets your requirements “out of the box” and what will be customization. This means you need to understand your requirements first before the selection process begins. If you want to see the cash register really start ringing, make a product selection without this understanding!

  • Wes Trochlil

    Couldn’t agree more, Bob. In fact, I advise my clients to not even look at software demos until the end of the process, so that the focus is on requirements and not on functionality with a high “gee whiz” factor.

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