Blue Link ERP - Software Vendor Demo ScorecardYou’ve spent the time speaking with accounting inventory software vendors about your specific business requirements. You’ve asked the right questions and have a solid understanding of what each vendor has to offer and how the different systems will address your needs. You’ve narrowed down the list to 3-4 vendors based on functionality, company fit, costs, customer satisfaction, and support. Now, it’s time to evaluate the much-anticipated software demos. While seeing the software in action is simply the final piece of clarification to what you already know about a system, it is still a great opportunity to see how user-friendly the interface is and how the flow from screen to screen works to accomplish your daily tasks.
Before we get into what to evaluate during demos, here are some important steps to take BEFORE the accounting inventory software demos to ensure you will get the most out of this time.
Before the Demo
Some accounting inventory software vendors offer pre-recorded demo videos on their website or may have a dedicated YouTube channel for showcasing product demos, as well as testimonials, tips and tricks and more. Watching these are a great way to gain an understanding of the software before the actual live demo session. This way, you won’t get overwhelmed or distracted with all the bells and whistles if you know what to expect and evaluate the software on your own to come up with any questions to ask during the demo.
It’s also important to go into any product demos with a list of must-haves as well as nice-to-have items when it comes to the system itself...think personalization, UI, navigation. These should however not outweigh the functionality that you already know the system can handle. Keep in mind that the demo is designed to educate you on how the system can solve your problems and not necessarily a training session on how to use the software.
Involving the right stakeholders before the demo stage is also a huge time-saver. When you pull in additional team members into a demo without them having any prior knowledge of what the accounting inventory software is or can do, it is a confusing situation where information previously discussed with the vendor will often have to be repeated to get other team members up to speed. This is not ideal as most vendors will only allow an hour or so for demos.
Bonus tip: Have a scorecard ready so you can easily rank vendor strengths and weaknesses in a logical manner. After looking at a couple of demos, it will be hard to remember specific details of each presentation to have a fair comparison. Creating a consolidated scorecard for rating vendors will help you record impressions when it’s freshest in your mind. Download Blue Link’s free scorecard below!
During the Demo
There are a lot of moving pieces to an accounting inventory software demo so go in with a plan of action. Here are a few areas to evaluate.
Most accounting inventory software vendors will give you a system overview to begin the demo – this is important. It will give you an idea of the ease-of-use and what you will be dealing with on a day-to-day basis. Can you see yourself using the system regularly? How easy is it to understand and to navigate? Can you see your employees in different departments using the system?
- User Interface
- Does the UI have dashboard views?
- Are the screens and information organized in a logical manner?
- Navigation - Menu and Toolbars
- Are the menus and toolbars easily accessible on every screen and interactive?
- Can you favorite frequently used items on the menu?
- Can you get from point A to point B and even point C without frustration?
- What functions are in the toolbar? Is there a help button? Is there a settings button?
- User Preferences
- How flexible is the system?
- Can you customize the homepage?
- Can you choose a different color scheme for managing multiple companies to help differentiate between each business?
- Group and user permissions– can specific screens be blocked for certain employees and how is this managed in the system?
- Search Functions
- Are wildcard searches available?
- What specific information can you search for?
- Is there universal search functionality?
- Shortcuts/Bells and Whistles
- Are there any time-saving shortcuts in the system?
- What makes this specific system stand out from the rest?
- Does it have industry-specific functionality or a dedicated help site?
- Are you able to drill down into data fields?
Ensure that the accounting inventory software vendor is not teaching you how to use the product during the demo, but rather using the time to showcase how the software addresses your unique needs and concerns discussed in previous meetings. It's important to see how the vendor and software can solve a specific issue identified during previous discovery calls, and the demo will show you what these solutions look like in the actual software. A good vendor will customize the demo keeping in mind the specific types of inventory you’re selling, different units of measure, unique processes, how you price items, etc., and it should not be an overly scripted generic presentation.
No matter the industry you’re in, reporting should be at the top of your functionality must-haves. Although you’re already familiar with what the vendor has to offer, it’s insightful to see how specific reports related to your needs are generated in the system. How much effort does it take to create these reports? What specific tools are used to create the reports? Did the vendor customize these reports to relate to what you need?
Some vendors will have many useful reporting tools to leverage in order to customize and edit reports, as well as pre-built reports such as:
- Sales by date
- Profit by customer/product report
- Vendor/customer payment history report
- Sale by customer by product report
- Inventory slow moving items
- Top inventory sales by unit report
A good vendor will not show you the entire system, but rather specific screens and functionality that are relevant to YOU and YOUR business. This is a good sign that they have honed in on your needs and have a full understanding of what you require.
Some of these screens may include:
- Sale Order Entry
- Purchase Order Entry
- AP/AR screens
- Bank Management screen
- Inventory Overview and Set-up screens
- Landed Cost
- Warehouse Transfer
- Lot Tracking
Take note of how these screens look and function. Are you able to access the main menu, toolbars and search bars from every screen? Does the flow from one screen to the other make sense? Take the sales order entry screen for example. What information is available? Can you see customer information, order type, order details, order status, shipping addresses, credit health etc. easily?
Extras are always nice! Think future growth
It's important that the software vendor not only focuses on the functionality and components you need now but what you will require in the future as the business grows. A good vendor will also show you options to expand your business and improve the way you do things such as eCommerce integration, different tools for your sales teams such as sales apps or how to become a paperless office with electronic document management and further automate your workflows.
Check out Blue Link's pre-recorded demo videos and contact us to learn more!