How to Get the Most Out of Product Demonstrations

 Professionals on conference call at large table

Evaluating investment management solutions? It’s important to consider how to make the most out of product or service demonstrations by properly preparing ahead of time then asking the right questions on demo day. It’s simply not a good use of your or the vendors time if you have not collected and aggregated requirements from across your organization and prepared a list of questions to ask during the demo. Read on for tips that will help you get the most out of your product or service demonstration and ultimately lead you to the best solution for your needs.

Document Requirements

Typically, vendors will hold a discovery call prior to a demonstration, asking about your requirements to assist them in preparing for the demo. Having a formal and documented statement of requirements in place is a great way to facilitate an effective conversation that will lead to a thorough and relevant demo. 

When documenting current and future state requirements, you should do so through the lens of functional, non-functional, and technical perspectives. What are your firm’s growth plans? Do they involve expanding the asset classes you invest in or investing in new geographic regions? From a technical perspective, your IT department may have preferences on how it wants to “connect” to a vendor product or service provider. Is there a strong desire to self-host or utilize a vendor cloud offering? You may also be concerned about workflow, which isn’t functional in nature but could play a big role in how your team interacts with the new offering.

Hold a Discovery Call

The discovery call is typically a 30-minute discussion where the vendor can learn more about your current system landscape, business processes, pain points and business goals. This call is also your opportunity to let the vendor know what’s important, and what’s not important to your search. For example, telling the vendor you’re an equity only manager will prevent the vendor from wasting time showing you fixed income securities during the demonstration.

Finalize the Agenda

Coming out of the discovery call, an agenda should be created and shared between the asset manager and vendor/service provider. There are two schools of thought regarding driving the agenda for a demonstration. On one hand you can let the vendor drive the agenda based on what they learned about your business goals during the discovery meeting. The rationale for this school of thought is it’s their system or service—they know the best way to present to avoid confusion. The other school of thought is that you should drive the agenda. After documenting your checklist, you can provide the vendor with an agenda of items you’d like to see. My experience, having been both on both sides, has been to let the vendor drive the agenda for the first meeting, but any subsequent demonstrations should be driven by you. Regardless of who sets the demo agenda, the document should be shared and reviewed prior to the meeting to align expectations.

Create a Checklist

Prior to demonstration day, create a checklist of your requirements and score the vendor on how well they cover the items on your list. When approaching a topic, ask the vendor to describe the entire lifecycle on an event. Ask them to highlight what they do and do not do when walking through that lifecycle. Maybe a vendor can handle derivatives on their platform, but they use a partner for collateral management. In the case where vendors answer questions with, “we have a partnership with XX”, dig in deeper. Find out how many clients are leveraging that partnership. You’ll find some are just logos on a page and others are much more mature. 

Question Workflow

The next question I would advise you to ask is related to workflow. Which processes are going to be manual in your future state and what will be automated? What happens when things break? Who is responsible for fixing it? How will they be notified? What types of automated system checks come out of the box? Can you create your own validations to ensure accuracy? Ensuring that the proposed solution meets your workflow requirements will provide you with a clear picture on how your team will interact with the new solution in your target state operating model.

With any system or service evaluation, it helps to have a partner that’s been down this road before. Citisoft has been assisting asset management firms for over 30 years with proven advisory and delivery services. I recommend reaching out to us and utilizing our defined methodology to facilitate a system or service evaluation.