For every business challenge, for every pain point, for every need there are always critical decisions to be made. Do you build a solution yourself with your in-house team? Do you commission a custom-built solution from a provider? Or do you find an off-the-shelf solution that is already on the market. Getting it right is not easy. Taking such critical decisions is necessary but many-a-times so daunting that you would not know where to start.
Each approach has its own pros and cons, however, very often, in business, time is of the essence. A business does not usually have the luxury to invest one or two years to build a custom solution. Thus going for an off-the-shelf solution is the most plausible approach.
This approach comes with its set of challenges. Each business need is catered for by a long lists of technology vendors, each offering different approaches, different prices, different technologies.
Shortlisting the best candidate solutions, selecting one of these many vendors and eventually onboarding their solution is both time consuming and requires specific skills to dissect each of the vendor offerings. Businesses that are not agile enough to select and implement solutions for their business needs lose out to more resilient competition.
Let’s take a few simple examples listed in the table below. Businesses that want to move to adopt the listed technologies need to take the critical decision on which one to choose, and then to onboard the provider’s solution.
|Cloud||Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS or Google Cloud|
|Digital Signatures||Docusign, Hello Sign or Adobe Sign|
|CRM||Salesforce, Zoho, MS Dynamics or Hubspot|
|HR & Recruitment||Jobvite, Workable, Honestly or BambooHR|
|Integrations||Zapier, Phantombuster or Parabola|
|Payment & Money Transfer||Revolut, Wise, Paypal or Stripe|
|Online Adverts||Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Instagram Ads, LinkedInAds|
|Service Desks & Ticketing System||Jira, Freshdesk or Zendesk|
|Productivity & Teamwork||Jira, Asana or Clickup|
To make the choice the buyer has to
- organise a side-by-side comparison of the best option
- get demos with the shortlisted solutions
- mitigate risks involved
- evaluate the scalability of each proposed solution
- evaluate and plan how the new solution will integrate to existing legacy systems
Here are 15 tips to help you in this process…
- Consider all the stakehoders that will be involved but your vender selection – not just the direct users.
- Write a brief (RFP) of what you want/need. Don’t just accept what the vendor is offering.
- Make sure you create a map of requirment and that you consider both your technical requirement and also your business requirements.
- Rank your requirement based on MoSCow – must-have, should-have, could-have, and won’t-have.
- Most of the time the devil is in the details. So do read the fine print.
- Set yourself a schedule with specific dates of all the steps of the vendor selection process.
- As for a demo and involve all the relevant stakeholders to the demo.
- Make sure you consider the running costs and the maintenance costs – not just the one-time costs. Work out the cost of ownership & ROI of each proposal.
- When you select a vendor make sure you agree with them on details that you learned from the non-selected vendors.
- Don’t base your decision purely on price. Usually the lower prices are an indication of lower grade product/service.
- Dont’ just talk to the salesman / business development. Check what depth the vendor has to support you. Check how their support functions.
- Make sure the vendor has a performance clause with penalties linked to an SLA.
- Talk to people who can give you an unbiased opinion about the vendor you are about the select.
- Negotiate the price any vendor gives you. You can always get to a lower fair price.
- Ask for a project plan as part of the vendor’s proposal.
Yes the list is very long but worry not. Smart Studios is here to help you. We are constantly seeking and trying out both traditional and emerging technologies, services and solutions across many technology and innovation areas including cybersecurity, business process workflows, human-centric design, cloud, digital transformation, IOT, AI & machine learning and many more. We are also active in open innovation platforms where established organisations and startups collaborate on specific solutions. This enables us to bring to the table a unique mix through which we can guide you in your vendor selection process – so that you can be sure you are selecting the one that fits your quality + time + financial requirements.
Vendor selection can be tricky, but it is necessary. The decisions you make today for your business will frame your opportunities for future growth.