Are free HRMS demos really free

Searching for the perfect HRMS for your business? Once you’ve gathered your system and user requirements, launched your RFP into the void and sifted the responses, you have a shortlist of vendor offerings. Next, it’s standard practice to invite them to present an HRMS demo. A chance to see your final contenders in action, up close. And the best thing? Demos cost nothing… or do they?

What is the purpose of a free HRMS demo?

For the vendor, the purpose is simple: to persuade you to buy their system. It’s marketing, it’s a sales pitch, a chance to show off the best features of their product.

For you, the potential buyer, the idea is to compare and contrast your ‘strong possibilities’, testing the system against a set of standardized questions and scripted scenarios. A chance to push past the marketing hype and slogans and get practical, with the results leading you to the right decision for your business.

For more on the demo process, try our free, downloadable Ultimate HRMS Demo Guide

These goals are not necessarily mutually exclusive but they are distinctly different.

Is a free HRMS demo really free?

Not really. Sure, you won’t get an invoice for the vendor’s time and trouble but just because you don’t have to open your wallet doesn’t mean there’s no cost.

A typical HRMS demo requires:

  • Assembling a demo team (ideally including stakeholder and specialist representatives who can bring a variety of perspectives).
  • Creating scripts so that all candidate systems are demonstrated using scenarios that are relevant to you and not just ‘vendor’s choice’.
  • Organizing practical details, such as location, equipment requirements, refreshments, etc.
  • Not to mention all the time you spent searching out and rejecting/accepting various HRMS to arrive at your shortlist in the first place.

This constitutes a potentially enormous amount of time, both yours and others’. Put a salary value on that time and a free HRMS demo is definitely not free. Especially when you factor in the time commitment from team members, which may include IT, procurement and finance specialists (and HR!), and whichever C-level or senior executive is sponsoring the HRMS project. What’s more, depending on what experience is available within your organization, you may have engaged an HRMS consultant to assist. That’s a hard cash cost right there.

Importance of only demoing a few systems

If it wasn’t crystal-clear before, the above shows that the more systems you demo, the heavier the cost. The ideal is to have all the demos in a single day. That way it’s easier to compare (you’re not peering at your scribbled notes, trying to figure out how last week’s demo measures up to this week’s and so on), and easier to arrange (herding cats is probably the most apt analogy for the diary work needed to get all your demo team together in the same place at the same time).

In this sense, your shortlist of systems becomes a serious influence on project cost – try to keep it down to just 4-5 systems.


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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

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