Flashy demos have fooled many into hasty purchases that lead to buyer’s regret. We’ll bust through the chicanery and peel back the curtain on MES and paperless manufacturing demos.
By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software
Have you ever seen an incredible trailer for a new video game – full of flash and action and scintillating graphics, only to purchase the game and discover it to be a clunky and awkward, with tech-backward gameplay designed to annoy more than amaze?
If so, you must have missed the tiny message at the bottom of the last screen of the trailer that mentions how the flashy marketing ad DOES NOT contain or represent in-game graphics. It’s easy to miss, especially with the sleight-of-hand companies utilize so effectively in advertising.
Unfortunately, MES and paperless manufacturing providers are under no obligation to offer even a cleverly hidden message during their demos. This is why a company might select a computer system after a demo, and discover the system they purchased isn’t what they thought it would be. It might require a major shop floor process change (one that your team isn’t prepared to make), or expensive service charges and customization just to match the promised functionality.
Here’s why – many companies “build” a demo for a presentation to illustrate how a product will work, instead of just showing you the product. Companies that require long implementations (measured in months or years instead of weeks) or use products that require customization (or configuration as it is known now) are notorious for this. If it’s going to take 6+ months to get your software ready for installation, do you really think they will knock out an honest demo before you’ve purchased anything?
Here are a few tips to help you cut through the demo hype:
- Use your shop floor information in the demo. Once you’ve signed an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement), give the vendor a sample of your shop floor information. How easily will your work instructions be integrated, and how much work went into the integration? This will give you an idea of how long it will take to load your work instructions into the system, and what it will look like on the shop floor.
- Go off-script. Look for an opportunity in the demo to focus more closely at the functionality you need. If shop floor data collection is what you need, then ask if additional data collection can be added to a work order. Watch as they add it. Going off-script will let you see how the system functions outside of the demo.
- Is the product installation ready? Many companies offer a product with a lower base cost, but a much higher service charge for configuration and installation. During the demo, ask if the product is installation ready. Could it be installed on-site after the demo? Ask how large the installation and product team will be? The answers you get will give you a better idea of what service costs you are looking at, and how much “configuration” (or customization) will go into the system you purchase.
Many times, there is a big difference between the product offered during a demo, and the one that is eventually installed on the shop floor. Make sure you know what those differences will be before you make a decision. A few questions and a little extra preparation can make the difference between a successful MES or Paperless Manufacturing installation, and a system that will hold your company back.
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