Solutions, Not Features: Demoing Software to Local Governments

Local governments are the gateway to democracy. Public servants have very specific needs and desires when it comes to adopting new technology. Here are the three keys to demoing software to local government.

Understand their current system

Understand local government's current system

Figure out what “works” today

A major difference between working with local government versus consumers is the existing infrastructure. While a new social network or communication tool will be competing with a wealth of existing products, there is a huge divide between the status quo of government and state of the art software.

Take Romulus, our CRM for local governments. Our largest competitors are not other cloud CRMs. Existing “systems” are far more likely to be composed of Google/Excel spreadsheets, Post-it notes, and Outlook inboxes.

Many offices use these in lieu of a CRM because they are flexible and readily available. While the private sector has long since recognized the hidden costs of using 1980s spreadsheets for 21st century information management, the public sector is still in its early days.

Empathize with their needs and goals

Take a walk in their shoes

Take a walk in their shoes

Before the demo even gets started, you should have a solid understanding of what the office’s priorities are. Fundamentally, everything in local government comes back to constituents but there are nearly infinite ways of serving them.

These can be direct, in the case of responding to a specific service request from a resident, to indirect, in the case of promoting local business growth. Every one of the 10.5 million local government employees is impacting their community in a unique way, so understanding their goals will go a long way to determining why they care about your software.

In our own experience, Romulus is a great fit for elected officials in large cities. Their needs — organizing a flood of incoming constituent requests, tracking communications, building stronger relationships with the community, and streamlining operations — are the problems Romulus is best positioned to solve.

Similarly, their goals and vision align with our own. Elected officials, as direct representatives of the people, are natural advocates for constituent issues. Achieving effective advocacy means adopting the best software available without getting tied into expensive long-term contracts that result in diminished capability over time.
Elected officials need to constantly demonstrate that they are modernizing along with their constituency, which means they need tools that can be implemented quickly with affordable pricing and no arduous contracts.

Demo use cases, not features

Demo Use Cases, Not Features

Molding the perfect solution

Early on, we would walk users through creating a new request or updating constituent information. After all, these are basic features of building a CRM for local government, so we should be showing them off, right?


Software is a means to an end. Demos are not about showing off your beautiful product—they’re about demonstrating solutions to real problems for the user.

Romulus offers a solution to the problem of constituent information scattered across spreadsheets, Post-its, emails, phone calls, notebooks, hallway conversations, and locked away inside staff members’ brains. Our customers can immediately relate to this pain.

Similarly, we did not build Open311 integration because open data is sexy (though it is!). We built it because local government offices need a better way to keep themselves and constituents up-to-date on inter-departmental requests. Many major cities either have Open311 implementations themselves or use tools compatible with the standard to centralize service requests. Our integration was simply the best way to extend their current system.

Impact is measured by the difference between your solution and what existed before, and impact is best communicated through stories, not feature breakdowns..

If you’re interested in using modern software in your office, check out Romulus. With transparent, affordable pricing; a delightful interface; and powerful search and analytics, you’ll fall in love with public service all over again.

Sign up for a demo and tell us what you think!