Recently, I’ve been doing what is possibly the least favorite thing about my job – watching software demos. As I always say, there are just so many products out there and they’re all so similar that they do just blend-in, for the most part.
But I have several reasons to actually give in and watch the occasional demo:
- When customers are looking to buy a new LIMS, ELN or LES, I do need to watch the demos with them to look for the details. That’s why they brought me in.
- When software vendors ask me to review their software then I do actually need to do that when I agree to it.
- I sometimes have customers ask me about specific brands and types of software that I’m unfamiliar with and, if it’s a name that often crops-up, then I think it would be a good idea to investigate that product, further.
With all that said, I still would rather do just about anything else than watch demos. In the past two weeks, and for all the reasons listed above, I’ve watched quite a number of them and I have some comments:
- I want to scream at the top of my lungs when I hear software vendors use words like “COTS” or “out-of-the-box” and I come to despise them when they spend too much time talking about how great the product is (and too little time giving the details of why that would be).
- Sometimes, because I’m so very jaded about this activity, I do actually forget why customers would hire a separate person such as me to sit in on demos. I forget until I sit in the demo, that is, because I then remember that I’ve been to so many that I know what types of things are red flags for problems. I sometimes spot things that customers don’t notice and they’re sometimes important.
- Some products seem to be on the right track toward becoming something really great but often have a number of roadblocks to that. For example, in the QC (quality control) area, it almost doesn’t matter how well the software manages the tasks or how easy it is to implement, maintain or grow with – what really matters are its references. In the USA, alone, if a product doesn’t have a strong Pharma reference from a big pharma company using the product in its QC area (i.e., gone through all its validation steps), then other customers just don’t feel they can afford to take the risk on those products. The validation effort is so significant that it’s probably the major hurdle I run across.