Getting the Most Out of a Software Demo

June 6, 2023

You’re probably already on the right track to finding the ideal software system.

First, you identified the challenges experienced at your operation. Then you compiled a list of system must-haves, nice-to-haves, and don’t-wants. After that, you conducted research into which software systems potentially check off all or most items on your list.

A few systems look good, but you still need more information before deciding which to choose. You’ve reached out to the software companies’ sales representatives and they suggest conducting live demos for you and your team.

Your schedule is tight and a lot is happening at work, so should you take them up on the offer? Yes, for sure. Better than a staid brochure or slide deck, a live demo is an excellent opportunity to see the system in action and find out what it’s capable of doing.

A live demo ought to be straightforward and engaging, speaking to specific pain points either you or your industry is currently facing. It should allow you to actively participate and ask any questions you’ve been pondering or came to mind during the meeting.

To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of questions to think about going into (and during) a live demo.

  • Can it solve my pain points? And how well?

Don’t get overwhelmed by flashy graphics or unnecessary features. During the demo, carefully consider how the system solves pain points and improves performance. As well, assess how easy the system is to navigate and if you can see yourself using it every day.

  • What’s included in the purchase price?

Ask if everything shown in the demo is included in the system you’re looking to purchase, as add-ons or custom work can be quite costly. And consider what kind of training and support is needed and if they are included with the system.

  • Are there limits on end-users or data storage?

You need to know if the system is flexible and scalable as your operation grows and expands. Find out how many people can access the system over a certain amount of time, and if the system can handle large quantities of data from multiple sources.

  • How is my data handled?

Your data is valuable and needs to be kept safe from internal and external threats. Ask how the software system collects, transmits, and stores your data. If you have large quantities of data to sift through, also ask about automated analytics and dashboard views.

  • Is it available on all devices? Does it need an Internet connection?

You should be able to fully access and utilize the software system using a desktop computer, tablet, or another mobile device. In addition, the system should be functional whether or not it’s always connected to the Internet or your network.

  • How complicated is the implementation process?

Your operation runs on a tight schedule, so it’s vital to know what it takes to get the software system up and running. An effective implementation strategy helps you manage timelines, roles and responsibilities, and any resources needed to successfully integrate the new system.

  • Is it easy to incorporate with existing processes?

You need to be able to share data and analytics with internal and external personnel as needed. Find out how easy it is to communicate and export data, such as completed reports and checklists, to help ensure current processes are maintained.

  • In what manner does the system conduct updates?

It’s important to find out how the system stays current while maintaining your privacy and security. You also need to know if updates are included in the purchase price or if they’re an extra expense – and if there’s any downtime associated with them.

A live demo can go a long way in helping you select the right software system for your and your team’s needs. Pay careful attention to what’s going on during the demo and don’t be afraid to engage with the presenters and ask questions (and follow-up questions) until you find out everything you need to know.

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