Planning for your HRMS demos

Ever attended a meeting that had no agenda, didn’t start on time (or finish on time) at which no one really seemed certain of the purpose of getting together? If the answer is no, you’re lucky. And if the answer is yes, it’s precisely that experience you should aim to avoid when preparing for your HRMS demos. The following are the key practical details to get a handle on when bringing your shortlisted vendors in to meet your demo team.

Obvious but practical details

It should go without saying, but you’ll need a venue that is large enough to hold everyone and has the resources to view the various HRMS options at their best. So, not only do you need to know how many people are in your demo team, but also how many are in each vendor’s sales team (and if you feel they’re bringing too many – there’s rarely a reason for more than two – feel free to impose a limit. After all, you’re in charge). Check out the technical needs: power points, projectors, screens, etc. If any of your team are attending at a distance, then you may need video conferencing facilities. And finally, if you plan on taking a break, some refreshments might be appreciated.

Recommended reading: HRMS selection survival guide - your complete guide to HRMS selection

Scenarios & scripts

The key preparation is putting together some common scenarios for each vendor to prove themselves against. For it to be a fair process (and to make it easier for you to find a ‘winner’) each candidate vendor should receive the same test. A particular advantage of having a series of common, structured scenarios is that more specialist members of your team may not need to attend the whole demo; the accounts representative may only need to see the payroll scenario, for example.

As to the content, the current wisdom suggests anything but an easy ride for the vendors, designing scenarios that deliberately seek to expose potential weaknesses. Look for the elements of your business that are unique or different to the mainstream in terms of payroll, learning and development, recruitment, or time and attendance and focus on those. For example, if you have a lot of mobile workers, look at clocking in and scheduling for staff who are rarely physically present.

Do share the scripts with the vendors beforehand, giving plenty of notice and answering any questions they may have about your requirements (you want to see their systems at their best, remember?)


Just as with a recruitment interview, prepare the starter questions beforehand. While you certainly need to know about basic system functionality, don’t neglect the broader issues, such as data security (disaster recover, data storage), pricing models (exploring the potential hidden costs, including labor), implementation timescales (including how the vendor intends to deal with essential steps such as training), vendor stability (i.e. how long have they been in business, are they a viable prospect for long-term support) and references from previous customers in similar businesses to your own.

Again as with a candidate for a job, research the vendors prior to the demo. Find out what you can about their company and their products, talk to your peers and network contacts, and use the information to devise questions that will address any concerns you may have.

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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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