At a software demonstration, you can learn about the features and capabilities of the software you are interested in and find out if it meets your needs. A successful demo helps you make an informed decision about whether the software is right for your specific challenges. It also shows how the software can be implemented into your workflow. How can your team prepare for a technical software demo to get the most value?
Before attending a demo, identify your most critical challenges, “must-have”s, and “nice-to-have”s. This is the most important step. Then communicate these points with the software vendor, along with some information about your organization and workflow. With this information, the vendor can tailor the demo to your challenges, and focus on the features relevant to your workflow and the topics you care about most.
Introducing new software into a workflow is an important decision that impacts many people within your organization, including scientists, executives and IT. Make sure to collect input from everyone involved. IT staff should be involved from the early stages so they can discuss technical requirements and other concerns relating to the new deployment. To make the most of your time, inform the vendor in advance about attendees’ roles and level of expertise. This will help them customize the demo for your team.
At the demo, participate actively and lay out all your questions. Specifically, ensure the vendor can answer the following essential questions: Which features set this software apart from competitors’ products? Why is the software ideally suited for supporting your workflow? To best see the software in action, provide your own experimental data for the demo. Then you can compare the outcome against your previous results. For instance, you might want to know: Were the results obtained more efficiently? Is there a measure to show you the results are more accurate? What additional outcomes have you achieved because of this new software? And how much time will be saved?
Also, consider your team’s transition to the new software. Check whether the vendor provides additional training opportunities to ease the transition process and lower the learning curve. At the end of the demo, make sure that you have clarity about the next steps and communicate your expectations and timelines.
A technical demo is potentially the beginning of a long-term partnership between you and the vendor. Therefore, make sure the vendor is a reliable partner with whom you can work easily. What is their support response time? In today’s global economy, you may be buying from a vendor based in another time zone/country. Make sure they will be available when you need them. You can ask for references from existing customers to be sure you are investing in the right vendor.
Overall, the key to a helpful demo is collaboration between your company and the vendor to ensure that your requirements are understood and addressed. A successful demo should present and explore a solution that is best aligned with your needs. This provides you with the information to make the best final decision, so that you will get a good return on your time and money.