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Product Demonstrations – Progress vs. Value

In past articles I’ve talked about the value of giving your stakeholders as much visibility as possible during project execution. If you commissioned a house builder, you wouldn’t wait until they hand you the keys to see your house for the first time would you? Why would software projects be any different?

When giving a product demonstration to your stakeholders such as your project sponsor or steering committee, you need to consider their perspective and what they are going to be seeking out of this demonstration. Remember that the primary reason you are doing this is to continue to maintain that trust they have built up in you and your team.

Often times product demonstrations will focus too much on what the technology can do rather than what value it will bring to your audience. An interim product demonstration should be treated no differently than a cold call sales demo – you need to display value to your customer and make them excited about the product. When I prepare for my interim demonstrations I ask myself one question with every point that I plan to make during the demonstration -“what value will this bring to my customer?”. If I can answer that question confidently with every feature I plan on showing, then I know my customer will be happy with it.

A lot of times project teams are showing a product essentially just to prove that they have been busy. That is completely the wrong approach and will likely do more harm than good with your stakeholder relationship. Your customers want to see why they are paying you and your team. If you can tailor a demonstration back to the core objectives of your project then your audience will likely be excited and engaged, thus further cementing that trusting relationship.

Don’t know how to ‘wow’ them? Look at the objectives you listed in your project charter. How can your product demonstration prove any of those objectives? Try to line up your speaking points to what the demonstrated functionality will do for your clients and how the functionality is lining up with your project objectives.

At the end of the day, you have to remember why your project was struck in the first place when planning your demonstration. Your customers want to see value, not just progress. If you can answer that one simple question with your planned demo, your customers will walk away happy and confident.

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