Over the last few sections you should have built up a list of requirements for what your perfect Web to Print solution will give to you. Now it is time to get in contact with your shortlist of potential suppliers and organise the demonstrations. Here are a few final things to think about:
First of all getting a group of people together who have other things to do is often quite a challenge. The best way we have seen is to arrange the demos all for one day and then discuss them at the end of that day when everything is still fresh in your mind. If that is not possible then at least make sure one person sees all the potential solutions.
The second point is that each member of your team that will use the Web to Print solution you choose will have different requirements so it really helps if you get a broad cross section of different positions within the company involved. We would suggest the Web to Print Project Leader (you need one!) / decision maker, the person building the products and the account manager of your first customer is a minimum. On top of that you could add people from your sales and production teams.
A good demonstrator will break a demo down into three parts, first they will find out about your business and especially your Web to Print requirements, then they will demonstrate the product specifically around your requirements and finally it should be questions and answers.
How long will a demo take? Well, in general, if it is over an hour you have gone off track. It is important that you drive the demos, if you let the demonstrator just show you the system then either they will show the bits that demo really well (even if you are not going to use those features) or they will try to show you everything, which is when things really take a long time. This is where having your checklist, especially your first customer and products in front of you, can really focus the demo to what you need.
We have all had it happen, as soon as someone has just left you come up with the most important question that you forgot to ask. At the end of your demos you will probably have a preferred provider, go back to them with anything that was not clear, anything that you forgot to ask and if you saw something you liked in another system then ask about if they have something similar.
The big thing is to never assume anything about a bit of software, you know what you need more than the person doing the demo. Remember you are about to enter a contract for a service or buy the software outright so assumptions can be expensive mistakes! In fact the suppliers don't want you assume either, it is way better for us to sign you up to something that works for you and that you know the limitations of the system in your application of the solution.
Never worry about asking for a follow up demo! If someone important couldn't make the meeting or you want to see something in more detail, then get the supplier back in for a follow up meeting.
No off the shelf solution can meet all the requirements of everyone. If after going through your demos and not finding any solution that has what you need then you have a couple of choices. The most extreme would be to look to develop your own solution. It is not for the faint hearted though, as it will be very expensive in terms of time and money.
Our advice is to at least consider paying for custom development on an off the shelf package. Most suppliers offer this service and custom development is probably more common than you think. Why take this route? In pure money terms it will nearly always work out cheaper. Basically custom development is building on top of what is already hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lines of code. If you are building from scratch you have to develop the feature you want plus those hundreds of thousands of lines of code.
The other thing is that, depending on the terms and conditions, you are pushing the support and maintenance of your custom feature back to your Web to Print supplier. Never underestimate how much time and money that will save you in the long run.
Well not quite, we have come to the end of our Pre Demo Section. Hopefully you have a good checklist in place for your upcoming demos. If not then feel free to use the template we have made for you:
Remember it is generic and we really do recommend that you work through the previous sections to make it more focused on what you need.