The Buyer’s Perspective: “Questioning Software’s Usability”


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An article by Harold Hambrose in Baseline Magazine entitled “Questioning Software’s Usability” raises a number of buyer-perspective issues well worth noting:

• “How do they know the tool will be effective in the hands of your employees?” – this is, in essence, a direct recommendation for a POC or Evaluation. They author notes,

“Ask if the software vendor will allow your users to sit with the application and perform a familiar task… A vendor demo isn’t good enough, because these demos are basically infomercials.”

I often recommend “letting your customer drive” in demos – to prove ease-of-use for themselves and to help avoid the need for a POC or Evaluation. This is another strong reason to do so!

• “Show me the metrics!” – the author continues,

“Ask for performance numbers. Find out how many minutes, hours, days or weeks it will take for your employees to become comfortable with the system, and how long it will take for them to really get rolling.”

This is where the concept of building a Transition Vision with the customer is so important. The customer may like the ultimate vision, but is concerned about how they will get there from where they are today. A Transition Vision is a solution to this challenge (see my article for more on how to accomplish this:

• “Does the application make sense to you?” – a long, complex, multiple-personality demo is a certain way to fail this criteria!

Performing your demo in small, consumable components – with a summary at the end of each section – will help address the question the author poses. Presenting each key segment via a “Do It” pathway, with no extraneous steps, helps even more!

The complete article is from the November 2008 issue of Baseline Magazine, page 14 (; the author is Harold Hambrose of Electronic Ink (

For more tips and articles on demonstration effectiveness skills and methods, email me at [email protected] or visit our website at For demo tips, best practices, tools and techniques, join the DemoGurus Community Website at or explore our blog at

Peter Cohan
Have you ever seen a bad software demonstration? Peter Cohan is the founder and principal of Great Demo!, focused on helping software organizations improve the success rates of their demos. He authored Great Demo! - how to prepare and deliver surprisingly compelling software demonstrations. Peter has experience as an individual contributor, manager and senior management in marketing, sales, and business development. He has also been, and continues to be, a customer.


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