What to keep in mind during HRMS demos

Demo day is here. And as your shortlisted HRMS vendors prepare to wow you with the latest technology known to human resources administration, you have some points to bear in mind. You’ve prepared well –the venue is perfect, your scenarios are scripted, and you have your questions ready  - now it’s time to put it into action.


You have a running order for the vendors, who will be in the room and when, but do you need to do the same for your demo team?

The size and composition of your HRMS demo team is largely driven by the complexity of your requirements and in larger organizations it may be that you have several people whose input is highly valuable but who only need to see one element of each system’s functionality or performance. For example, an accountant might only be interested in the payroll module, the IT person in installation issues, the c-suite representative in high-level analytics and reporting (hopefully, a board member would take a wider interest but, well, they are busy people…) So, if possible, juggle the schedule so that people with these ‘niche’ interests can drop in and out of the demo meeting – if you can make it work, they’ll appreciate not wasting their time, and they won’t be ‘underfoot’ during the rest of the demo.

Recommended reading: survive your HRMS vendor demos and select a new system unscathed with our start-to-finish HRMS selection survival guide.  

Interruptions and off-script moments

The thing about having a script is that some people then don’t like to deviate from it. What’s more, your vendors will have their own script or agenda for their presentation. So, what about diverging from the plan? Depending on what you’re hearing during the demo, it’s okay to interrupt the vendor’s presentation, either because you have a specific question or because they’re guiding you away from the issues you want to hear about. However, idle or semi-relevant questions that interrupt the flow (yours or the vendors) are to be avoided.

And… if you have any sort of break during a demo, be wary of conversations that lead into the vendor discussing specific product features with individuals (or even turn into a personal mini-demo within the demo) – all presentations and questions should be conducted in the presence of everyone on the team that needs to hear them.

It’s about control

Never forget, you’re the customer. Potential customer, in fact. What’s more, you have no obligation to buy any of the packages on your list (although naturally, you’re hoping that you will, if only so as not to find yourself back at square one!) So, maintain (or when necessary, regain) control over the demo process. A good way to do that is to return to your prepared questions. There are two broad types: system-specific (functions, inputs, outputs, technical specs, customization, integration with other software, data security, price etc.) and vendor issues, which may explore the following:

  • What references or endorsements can you provide?
  • How stable is your company?
  • Will the system keep pace if we grow?
  • How well do you understand our business?


When the demos are over, you and your team will be sitting down to discuss the best option, but after three or four possibly quite similar presentations, the details can blur. One way to keep things clear is for everyone to complete a scorecard for each system on show.

Take your various criteria (derived from the initial business case for the purchase of a new HRMS) and have individuals use a simple rating scale for each one, such as:

0 – does not meet the criteria

1 – partly meets the criteria

2 – fully meets the criteria

3 – exceeds the criteria

The basic quantitative data from these scorecards will make the next stage – the evaluation of the various vendors and their products – so much easier.

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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.

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Dave Foxall