In many ways, the software demonstration is the crux point of the payroll software selection process. It is the opportunity to be able to see hard evidence of whether the solution can meet an organization’s needs (or not, as the case may be). Demos may be quick run-throughs or simple presentations (suitable perhaps for upgraded versions of an already-in-use product) or a full-scale scripted scenario-based showcase of all the key features identified by the buyer. When either the system or the vendor is new to the organization then it may be wise to err on the side of caution and opt for the latter. Alternatively, the prospective buyer may consider downloading and parallel running a 30-day free trial shareware version. This gives the chance to ‘test to destruction’ and also a longer exposure to the product’s features than a short, one-off demo. Whichever demonstration model is chosen however, the following tips can maximize the gains the demo process can net.
Payroll Software Demo Tip #1: Shortlisting
Just as in sourcing new hires, not everyone is invited to an interview or assessment. The first step is drawing up a manageable shortlist of vendors to invite-a key pre-selection tactic for any payroll solution. When considering who to include, there are various useful tools available: Gartner's Magic Quadrant, Forrester's Wave, and even PayrollSearch’s Top 10 Reviews all offer objective information and analyses. Clay Scroggin of CompareHRIS suggests viewing pre-recorded demos in order to first better understand the market; citing that organizations need to "first understand what these systems are capable of. In other words, they need to increase their…system IQ." Such a preliminary viewing program will give an indication of vendors who may be a good fit for an organization, after which a more in-depth look can be taken.
Payroll Software Demo Tip #2: Have the Right People in the Audience
As Michael Krupa of InfoBox says, “Match the content of the demo with the participants. If the demo is to show you the GL interface for Payroll you don’t need the head of HR but you do need your Payroll accounting folks.” While the ‘audience’ for a demo should not be so large as to need a conference hall, there is merit in having the various key stakeholders represented. For example, as well as payroll experts, the executive sponsor should be in attendance, employees from IT should be on hand to field any overtly technical questions, staff from Procurement should be invited due to governance issues, and representative input can also be gathered by having subject matter experts and end-users sit in. Depending on the scale of the decision, its impact on the business, and the budgetary implication of the software deployment, significant C-level presence may also be required.
Payroll Software Demo Tip #3: Scripted Demos with ‘Killer’ Scenarios
SNP Consulting’s research brief, Future-proof and Time-efficient Ways to Choose a New Payroll/HR System, recommends scripted demos, “although they require more lead time and more preparation they are more time-efficient and will yield infinitely more insight into the suitability of potential products than a vendor-driven presentation.” The three main benefits of using a demo script are:
It facilitates a comparable demonstration from each vendor
It is easier to see how each vendor would or would not meet key business requirements
People to attend for just the part of the demo that is relevant to them
As for the script content, the In Full Bloom blog (By industry maven Naomi Bloom) offers some detailed advice, suggesting that rather than everyday routine situations, the script focus on scenarios that, “poke at the places where [the] software is most often weak, poorly thought out, inadequately tested, improperly modeled, suffering from poor architecture, etc. etc. ” and recommends the following payroll-linked scenario options:
Field sales or service employees whose migratory work locations ensure that their pay is taxable by more than one jurisdiction during a payroll period?
Employees who are paid at different rates during the payroll period depending on what specific work they were doing at a particular time?
When actually employed (WAE) employees who are paid on an hourly basis when they are called in to work, and are then paid at the rate that’s relevant for the work they are doing, but who also receive a pay period stipend and some benefits in exchange for holding themselves available?
Employees who are handicapped in such a way that a government agency subsidizes a portion of their wages and/or benefits?
All manner of changes to these arrangements during a payroll period as well as retrospectively, retroactively, and prospectively (as in forecasting)?
Payroll Software Demo Tip #4: Consultant Fit
Demonstrations are often conducted by the vendor's sales representative. However, the scope of the software and the scale of the implementation may imply a period of close working with a consultant. The vendor may provide implementation consultancy as a part of a services agreement, or the organizations may hire its own independent consultant; either way, this potential working relationship can goes so far as to actually form part of the decision-making framework – a fact that should naturally compel customers to want to get to know the consultant beforehand. After all, as Andrew Holmes advises in his book, The Chameleon Consultant: Culturally Intelligent Consultancy, “I would, however, regard culture as an unwritten criterion, and one that is usually hidden from view. Yet, so often it is the fit between client and consultant that secures the sale. Culture is often the overriding factor.”
Payroll Software Demo Bottom Line
The key to a successful software demo process is maintaining the balance between client control (i.e. ensure the vendor addresses the customer's priorities) and vendor freedom (i.e. allowing them to show their product in its best light). Control of the demo means control of the purchasing decision; and the right decision means the right system for your organization's needs and budget.
In many ways, the software demonstration is the crux point of the payroll solution selection process. It is the opportunity to be able to see hard evidence of whether the solution can meet an organization’s needs (or not, as the case may be)."