4 mistakes businesses make in HRMS demos

You and your team are in a conference room, looking at a flickering screen as the software vendor’s salesperson clicks back and forth between functions; the only thing moving faster than the mouse is the salesperson’s patter. Of course, there are variations on this theme, but essentially the HRMS demos you conduct are the key stage in your HRMS selection process – it’s the point at which you finally see the systems up close and personal and have the opportunity to ask the difficult questions. There are a number of ways to fluff this opportunity.

1. Not having the right people there

The chances are, you have a mixed team responsible for your HRMS selection project, or at the least a variety of stakeholders involved, from various HR staff to user representatives, IT experts to a C-suite sponsor. But do they all need to be there? Just because this is the ‘sexy’ part, doesn’t mean you allow the room to be packed with spectators.

the more latitude you allow the salesperson, the more likely you are to see what they want you to see and not what you need to see

Most stakeholders will have had direct input prior to the demo (even to the degree of helping design a demo script) and that engagement can be used to identify their questions and concerns; they don’t have to raise these issues personally. Similarly, seniority is a red herring. For example, the HR administrator who will spend her working life with the new system will probably have more pertinent questions than the HR director who is paying for it.

2. Letting the vendor run the show

It may save a lot of time just booking a timeslot in the diary and making sure a meeting room is available, but the more latitude you allow the salesperson, the more likely you are to see what they want you to see and not what you need to see.

Recommended reading: HRMS selection survival guide - 9 steps to selecting the best HRMS for your business

Preparing an HRMS demo script may be time-consuming but there are a number of advantages to doing so; you see how the system will meet your specific needs and business scenarios (or not); by using the same script for all demos, different products are more easily compared; and by structuring the demo script in stages relating to different functions, you have the option of inviting some colleagues to attend only the section that is relevant to them. You also make it more difficult for the demonstrator to skip important features.

3. Buying the salesperson not the system

The person demonstrating the snazzy new system is almost certainly not the person with whom you’ll be dealing with over the lifecycle of the software. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ll never see them again. Meeting your potential support liaison and checking that they would be a good fit for your organization is important; doubly so if they are providing consultancy services for the implementation phase.

4. Being satisfied with too little

If the system and the vendor are new to your organization (i.e. they didn’t sell you your previous system) then don’t settle for a quick run-through or brief slideshow presentation. You need a full-scale showcase, with scripted scenario-based demos of all the key features that you have identified as critical to your business (again, having a demo script is an excellent way of ensuring that this happens). Even a full HRMS demo is conducted in a limited window of time; if the option exists, consider downloading a free trial version and testing it ‘to destruction’ at your leisure.

author image
Dave Foxall

About the author…

Dave has worked as HR Manager for the Ministry of Justice for a number of years, he now writes on a broad range of topics including jazz music, and, of course, the HRMS software market.

author image
Dave Foxall