Tips for Conducting Better Technical Demos

During course of engagement with customer, one has to demo products/solutions at various stages in the project. Demos may be conducted at the very initial stage as part of pre-sales or during course of project after you have completed few iterations and want to showcase the functionality to the users.

Here are few thing you can keep in mind to deliver effective demos.


Context: Getting into a demo without preparation is recipe for disaster. Make sure you plan and prepare for demo no matter how expert you on the topic. Every demo has slightly different context. In order to better understand that context, collect as much information as possible to understand the objective of the demo.

You may ask questions regarding;

  • customer industry
  • current products being used
  • Competitors
  • their financial situation


Having a good quality setup is very important (laptop, internet connection, mic, speakers, noise/distraction free environment, projector). Occasionally your laptop resolution does not work well with projector, it results in a bad demo experience.


Find out who is going to attend demos. What is their interest? what baggage do they carry in terms of their experience with your products? How your system can impact their life, both in positive as well as negative manner? Who is going to sign the bills? What are their political sensitivities with project?

Once you have this information, adapt your demo/script to address each attendee’s concerns, starting with most important person in attendance.


Keep it Short

Demos should be short to keep audience engaged. Long demos, with too much detail, tend to become a training session.

Engage and Show Business Value

Instead of talking about long list of features, show an end to end flow. This helps audience build context to better understand the details shared later on in the demo.


During demo, if you come across information/insight which is different than what you had assumed earlier, adapt your demo in light of new insight you gained. Do not stick to your initial plan. This happens frequently in pre-sales demos where you start with a prepared script but you come across user cases which are significantly different from prepared script.

Handle Unexpected

Be prepared to handle unexpected situations. E.g what if application becomes slow or internet connection dos not work.  Keep few lines ready to fill those gaps, e.g. you can share little bit more detail while a page is being loaded.

My favorite part from book “Product Demos That Sell” is where author says “Lay landmines for your competitor”. This is effective in situation when customer is looking at various products as part of product evaluations.


What is ideal outcome that you want from this demo? Is it pre-sales demo and you want customer to purchase your product or is it first iteration in project execution and you want customer to approve the functionality? Make sure you drive your demo to achieve that objective. Frequently, we demo products and then say “Thank You” at the end, closing the meeting without any conclusion or follow-up actions.

Book Reference: Product Demos That Sell – How to Deliver Winning SaaS Demos

How do we conduct business requirements (discovery) sessions?

During course of our consulting work, we have to engage with business users, both senior level executives as well as  individual contributors, to conduct discovery sessions to find out business requirements in order to either propose a solution or implement a packaged solution (Salesforce or Agile PLM,  in case high level requirements are already defined).

Finding requirements is always a challenging work. Based on our years of work with business users, we observed some patterns.  Based on these observations, we came up with a methodology to ensure consistency in the process.

We call it Listen, Synthesize, Present (LSP). Below is a description of each step in this process.



During this step, our focus is to interact with users to collect as much information as possible using various tools like interviews, observations, and documents.


Once we have required information, we process collected information,  validate it against multiple references. Validated information is then documented.


Once information is validated and documented, we present it to all stake holders along with senior executives. High-level problem statement and solution is reviewed along with potential benefits.

Role of an external PM in PLM Implementation Projects

With two recent experiences (in fact bad experiences) of working with external project managers, I thought it is worth sharing my observations on this topic. By external PM, I mean a part-time project manager hired by the customer, other than primary implementation partner, to manage PLM implementation project. These observations apply to small to medium size companies which have limited resources to establish full-time PMO office and usually have small Document Control teams.

Companies hire external PM, primarily due to following reasons:

  •  They lack expertise/confidence to manage PLM projects
  • They don’t have capacity
  • They want to mitigate vendor related risk and involve third person to protect themselves against vendors

Before discussing external PM, let’s see what is really expected from a PM. He should be someone who:

  •  has long-term stake in the success of the project and gives highest priority to customer’s interests
  • is deeply involved in the project on day to day basis
  • understands the dynamics of the PLM implementation projects
  • can spare enough time/attention for the project

Whenever customers hire an external PM,

  •  It creates extra overhead in the communication. PM wants vendor to report to him/her instead of talking to primary project sponsors and users
  • In creates conflict of interest, remember vendors are interested in building long term trusted relationship with customer, they simply get frustrated due to this middle-man.
  • Due to part-time availability, PM can not engage enough with internal users, his/her availability becomes an issue.
  • Since PM is not a functional and technical expert (implementation partner is supposed to be expert) , he/she does not understand the dynamics of the project and focuses more on reporting aspects, meeting with deadlines, saving pennies, and justifying his/her role.

Instead of hiring external PM, what is recommended is to identify somebody internally in the organization to play this role. If internal person lacks prerequisites skills, he/she should be trained and enabled. You should look around in Quality, Engineering or Document Control teams to identify suitable person, someone who will live with project results for many years to come, not someone who will be out of the door in few months.

Remember, nobody else can take care of your interests except you.

Alternatively, if internal PM is not possible, then implementation partner should be trusted with PM role. Due to their prior similar experiences, Implementation partners can add a lot of value to the project by sharing industry insights. Clear expectations and success criteria should be set with vendor at the beginning of the project.

Thinking in Systems

Recommending a book involves lot of risk; your credibility and other people’s time would be at stake. However, after reading “Thinking in Systems”, it is worth taking this risk.

If you have ever thought about questions like:

  • How systems work and behave?
  • How systems are structured and what abstractions to use to simplify their complexity?
  • Is it possible to change a system? If yes, when and where you should intervene to get desired outcome?

Then you should read ” Thinking in Systems” by Donella H. Meadows.  Concepts in this book are relevant to every system, no matter which area of life you are dealing with. Systems are everywhere; galaxies, political systems, project teams or an individual cell in your body are few examples.


In Part one, writer defines system, its building blocks and how they interact with each other to achieve certain purpose.

In Part Two, writer explains how systems work so well and explains key characteristics of the systems that make them sustainable. Three key characteristics are described here :  Resilience (ability to sustain in adverse conditions), Self Organization (changing own structure) and Existence of Hierarchy (systems within systems).

System traps are phenomena you should avoid while you are analyzing an existing system, identifying root cause of certain behavior or designing new systems to achieve certain goals. One such trap is Tragedy of Commons, it  happens when a shared resource is used (or abused) by many participants and its use (or abuse) can not be attributed to any single participant. Potential opportunities to avoid this trap may be things like privatizing the resource (each participant pays price of its usage) or regulating the resource usage .

In last part, writer discusses most interesting topic:  Leverage Points:  places to intervene in a System. You would be amazed to see that there are so many places in the system where you can intervene to change the behavior. Real life systems are so complex that you may need to adjust many leverage points to achieve desired outcome.

If you are brainstorming about a specific problem like how to improve performance of your company,  then you will have to identify goals, establish rules, feedback loops,  setup appropriate structure, each one being a leverage point in systems theory. Hundred years ago, who would have thought that we will be driving cars in 8 lanes freeway or operating such busy airports or writing such complex software with such a discipline. You can identify how rules, feedback loops (reinforcing loops or balancing loops) are in action in these systems.

These concepts help you broaden your perspective;  how you look at the systems,  understand their historical context,  what solutions may (or may not) work, or what position you take when talking about political issues etc.



How to finish IT projects?

As IT consultant, we are much more excited to begin new projects as compared to finishing ongoing projects. In an effort to grab new projects, we end up losing low-hanging value in existing projects. Here are few thoughts to help wind up your projects.

As some one said, these are just my opinions, your situation may be unique, which may require certain adjustments in these activities.


Integrating Employee Training with PLM in Medical Device Industry

In highly regulated industries , like medical devices , employee training have paramount significance.  Training employees is important for two reasons:

  • Regulatory Compliance

FDA requires medical device companies to capture all training for employees. As part of audits, FDA ensures that proper processes and systems are in place to capture training records.

  • Building necessary skillset

Since risk is very high, especially when human lives are at stake, it is absolutely necessary that

employees are adequately trained on all relevant processes and procedures. This includes whenever a new document is released or an existing document is updated in PLM.

Capturing Training Plans and History

One of the pre-requisites to execute training is that you capture training plans for each employee. This can be done by defining training profiles that align with job descriptions or roles of the employees. Once you have training profiles, you can assign these training profiles to the individual employees and then track actual training against these profiles. If you have LMS in place, you can define these profiles in LMS. Alternatively, you can define these profiles in Agile PLM.

Capturing Training Requirements in Real Time

Whenever a new SOPS/process document is ready to be released, system should enforce that all related employees are trained to this new document before this document is actually released. Once employees are trained, then system can release new document and make it accessible for every one.

Document change management processes in PLM should be enhanced to ensure that necessary training are identified and executed before new document is released. In Agile PLM,  you can enhance workflows to capture training before document is released.

Employees need to have a very intuitive interface to submit their training.

ETR Blog

Integrate with LMS

Many companies have implemented LMS system with very rich functionality to define, execute, manage, and report on training. However, documents are usually managed in PLM system. This necessitates to sync new or updated document with LMS as soon as it is ready for training in PLM. Once training is completed,  LMS can update Agile PLM about completion status so that document can be released.

Xavor offers a suite of product s in PLM space to streamline the employee training processes, especially with Agile PLM. Following two products work together seamlessly to provide an end-to-end solution:

  • Employee Training Records (ETR)
  •  xEngine

For more information,  please reach us at

Need for Integrating Product Data

If you look at any product company, you will see that PLM is the primary system where you manage all parts information, BOMS structures, design documents and any other supporting content like work instructions, SOPS, data sheets, and diagrams.

In addition to PLM, there are many other systems which are needed to manage your business processes like manufacturing, financial, operations, and sales & marketing.

PLM and Other Enterprise Systems

In ERPs, you manage financial and operational processes. Many customers have MRP built into their ERP. This is where you need PLM related data like parts, BOMs, and related suppliers and vendors for those parts.  When an ECO is approved in PLM, either,  to release a new part or to update a design document, you may need to sync this ECO with your ERP to reflect this change in MRP. Similarly, if part cost is updated in ERP, you may need to bring updated cost in the PLM. This is because many customers need this information in PLM for cost management.

On the other hand, all interactions with customers are managed via CRMs. All quality events,  which originate from customers, are recorded in CRM. This is where customers can submit product requests as well as change requests. Many companies implement design win process in CRM as well. If your product is being used in the field, whenever there is a failure in the field, you will be capturing support cases in CRM. All supporting information like attachments and affected items will be recorded in CRM. Subsequently,  this information will be fed into PLM for further investigation and root cause analysis. Once analysis is done, you will need to update , case status and resolution details,  back to CRM.


Folks in Product design and engineering community spend most of their time in CAD tools. This is where most of collaboration around design activity takes place. These CAD tools have part lists & attributes along with engineering BOMS. This information has to be brought into PLM for change control and further integration with other systems.

There may be whole range of other business applications which need product data. Business Intelligence and analytical apps are just one example. You may have legacy PLM systems which need to be retained until all processes are fully migrated.  Suppliers and Customer Portals also need PLM related information. In industries like, medical device, you may have integrations with FDA for regulatory reporting.

We see that there is lot of overlap between PLM and these systems and there is a definite need for integrating product data between PLM, ERPs, and CRMs.

Benefits for integrating PLM with ERP/CRM Integration

If you have an efficient and reliable integration solution in place, it can add a lot of value to your business.

Product profitability may go up because of the elimination of errors and waste in the product development process.

Manufacturing process will also be efficient because of sharing updated docs with suppliers and vendors.  You can also quickly respond to market demand by ramping up volume production by coordinating with your partners across whole supply chain.

For CRM,  key objective would be to have a great customer experience. If your CRM does not have all the required information available, e.g. product list, you may have to look up that information from multiple systems,  or in worst case, you may have to hang up customer call before you can find all relevant details. Eventually, this will degrade customer experience and will increase case resolution cycle time.  Having all relevant information available in CRM, can greatly improve customer experience as well as improve case resolution cycle time. Cost will also be reduced because of elimination of the inefficiencies in the whole process.

You can also improve product quality by feeding customer input directly into PLM and product design process.

xEngine – Integration solution By Xavor

Xavor, as a consulting company has been offering integration solutions , almost for 15 years, for a wide range of industries. Now, based on that experience, we have built an integration solution, called xEngine.  xEngine is a light weight solution, highly configurable and is specifically designed to work with Agile PLM

You can use xEngine to sync parts, documents, BOMs,  from your PLM system with EBS, SAP or any other system.  It has capability for bi-directional synchronization. That means  you can sync parts from PLM with EBS,  as well as,  sync cost information from EBS back to PLM.


Improving NPI Projects for Consumer Electronics Accessories Market by Implementing Agile PPM

Accessories market for consumer electronics is very fast paced due to continuous release of new gadgets and devices, especially smart phones and tablets. With each new release of a smart phone,  one has to release matching accessories like chargers, protective cases, cables. In following section, we will list down key dynamics of this industry and then see what benefits you can get by implementing Agile PPM to manage NPI projects.

Short Product Lifecycle:

Since new models are released every year or so, life cycle of related accessories is very short. New models have to be designed, manufactured, marketed and sold in very short period of time.

Time to Market

If you look at the revenue model of these products, over 90% of the products revenue is typically earned in first couple of months after device is released. E.g. if you are designing a case for a IPhone, 90% of the revenue for case will be earned in first 1-3 months. After that, demand for such accessories rapidly declines due to short product life cycle of the specific iPhone model. If you are unable to release your product in market in first few months, basically you lose whole opportunity for that specific model.

Lack of Information

Another big challenge is lack of information about new devices. Big manufacturers are very sensitive to releasing details about new models.

Companies , working in this environment, want to optimize new product introduction process as much as possible to seize every possible improvement opportunity. This includes redesigning and optimizing processes, collaborating with partners, leverage existing assets (designs, materials, technology) as much as possible.

Lets talk about how Agile PPM, product portfolio management module in Agile PLM,  can help to manage these challenges.

Use Project Templates

Building new models of the accessories for newer devices is typically very predictable process. This is because you have to go through similar product development process to build a case for it. Using project management templates helps to optimize the project management process. You can build project templates with all necessary tasks, document templates (quality reports, financial models,  marketing collateral) and project team roles. With templates, initiating a new project becomes very efficient, without thinking about such details again.

Integrate Project Data across product value chain

You need very strong integration with product data management tools in order to successfully execute a project. You can use an integrated platform like Agile PLM to integrate NPI projects with your product records across whole product value chain, including your suppliers and vendors. You can assign project tasks directly to the vendor to build prototypes  for new device. Once you receive prototypes, you can review and submit first article inspection reports using the same platform.

Secure Product Data

Security is another big concern for device as well as accessories manufacturers.  You have to comply with certain standards in order to qualify for early release of device information. Since you are building accessories for multiple devices from different vendors,  your IT solution should have very tight controls to protect that device information before it is actually released. Agile PLM provides a very robust security model to control access at a very detailed level (parts, field, attachment etc).

Implement  Analytics

In this hyper competitive market, you need to identify every possible improvement across product development process. BI tools, like OPLA ,provide analytical insight into NPI process. You can measure various KPIs and find correlation between various activities to better plan NPI projects.

Is Yammer ready to be killed?

New “Groups” feature introduced in Office 365 is an alternative to Yammer groups. Office 365 groups are tightly integrated with other Office 365 apps like Calendar, OneDrive and AD.  Key features available in Office 365 groups are:

  • Conversations
  • Files
  • Calendar

Groups in Left Navigation Bar and New Group screen:

Yammer 01

Group Home Page:

Yammer 02


It seems that Microsoft is gradually porting Yammer features to Office 365. Only other feature I would like to see in Office 365 is News Feed along with some gamifications apps. Then it won’t make sense for O365 users to log into Yammer at all. In my opinion, Yammer will not survive in its current form.

In fact, it is always difficult to push enterprise users to adopt to an external social networking application like Yammer. Integrating social networking capabilities right into mainstream productivity and business apps will help enterprises to exploit somewhat benefits of social networking capabilities.