Locked and Loaded – Choosing the Right Software Vendor
October 29th, 2019 (Updated 03/23/2021) | 7 min. read
Choose The Right Software Vendor Based on Research
A vendor is an enterprise that offers goods or services that (hopefully) make your life easier as an organization. In case you are planning business process changes in your organization, it is worth having a look at different service providers. You are the only people who know what is best for your organization. However, as with carpentry or other intricate crafts, building the service that you need may not be as easy as it seems.
Vendor Checklist – Choosing the Right Software Partner
You may think you can Google a vendor that fits your needs. Not so fast, please! This is not only about choosing a software vendor – it is about doing your homework before contacting any external companies. Let’s have a look at the checklist for requesting a vendor:
- Prepare high-level business requirements from the end-user perspective. If you want to build a house, you need to know what your building will look like. Moreover, while your IT department will create very challenging requirements, talk to your end users and write down several functional stories from their perspective. If you have never done it, it’s time to start, and this is the best source.
- Review these requirements in a short feedback session with the end users. If you plan to build a house for a family, you most probably will ask their opinion. After writing down the high-level requirements, talk with your end-users again. This way, you avoid any functionality that might be useless in the future.
- Check the specifications for your organization. Many organizations have strict data and security policies. Before contacting any vendors, talk with your IT department and learn what the particular requirements for third–party providers are.
- Make a list of the evaluation criteria for the vendor. You will talk to many organizations and their representatives. An excellent first impression is not a valid argument for choosing a vendor. Put the key elements that are important for your organization, e.g., budget, flexibility, scalability, friendly UI, etc. In the end, you can get a nicely decorated house with less budget and in less time if you know what you are looking for.
Scouting Vendors for the Best System
After you spend some time on the vendor request checklist, I am sure you will start being engaged in the process. The next step is to actually scout the vendors.
Where to find the source of vendor information?
- Look through specialized magazines and platforms like Gartner, Forrester, G2Crowd, Experts Exchange. These sources will provide aggregated information.
- Ask peers/colleagues in professional groups in LinkedIn – reach out to cross-industrial peers. They can offer you some subjective opinions and experience tips.
- Research forums and blogs related to your topic for further recommendations. This an excellent source to get to know trends and best practices.
- Join conferences and events that include the target group of vendors.
- Google it. However, please try the first four options above first.
Evaluation – Do They Have What You Need?
The next logical step is the evaluation process. On this topic, you can find a lot of serious Forbes and McKinsey articles. However, I believe you are more interested in real life experience.
At Pricefx, over several years, we have built great relationships with our customers. In recurring conversations, they mention that we are focused on fast, friendly, and flexible delivery. However, we believe that there is more to it.
So, what makes the right software vendor?
- Solution flexibility. Many solutions look nice from the user interface perspective but are hard to adapt to your exact business needs. Look for vendors that focus on building custom solutions with pre-built software and have a good pipeline of industrial examples.
- Solution automatization and smart engine. In the end, this is precisely where you want to go in the future. Whatever processes you are digitalizing, the most crucial thing is to do it faster and smarter in the future.
- Solution scalability. Today, the software package one vendor offers may be enough, but you plan to grow and develop your business, so make sure you choose the partner that wants to grow with you and offer you more services/product updates in the future.
- Customer centricity. You don’t want to work with slow, rude, and dispassionate service providers. Imagine that those people would be around you, and you part of their team. Would you still want to work with this software vendor? Are they ready to react fast and work with you towards the optimal solution?
- Implementation approach. In the end, you want to have a digital tool that does exactly what you need it to do. If you have two years and an unlimited budget, you can go for a traditional implementation approach. You start with requirements gathering, proceed to a four month “don’t hear from the vendor” period, and then you test a “black box”, which is the opposite of what you have been expecting to receive. So, maybe a more agile approach would be better?
- Solution speed-to-value. Even if your management decided to invest two years and a big budget into business process automation, don’t think too big. Start small and look for vendors who can start helping your business with a first-solution version after three to five months of implementation.
- Solution price. Neither an economical nor a costly solution reveals its quality or its possibilities. If you are limited with the budget, choose the range and see what kind of offers exist in the market. Will that bring you a benefit as a company or only hassles for a low/very high price?
- Solution evangelists. Ask companies who already use the software you have listed. If you open the door for the vendor to enter your business, make sure that you can build a fruitful and long-term collaboration with them.
This list is drawn up based on accumulated experience of one the fastest-growing pricing companies. At Pricefx, we strive to build collaboration with our customers and also implement solutions tailormade to their needs in a short period of time. We believe that a good project should be neither long nor expensive if both sides prepare the project in an agile way. Finally, I can assure you that our customers love to work with us and we enjoy our time together because we always put their needs first. Check out the previous Accelerate conference for more “customer evangelism”.
A Few Last Words
And, if by chance, at this point you were not convinced that a vendor is better than in-house implementation, I have a few last lines for you about “Why a vendor and not an in-house implementation?”
Unless you have unlimited resources and a team that can start tomorrow, including a very flexible IT infrastructure and very flat hierarchy in the organization, we recommend looking for someone who can do it for you. Why? Because it is the only thing they do and, therefore, they can probably do it better than you. They also have seen many more examples on the market and can grasp the needs.
If your processes are too complex to be transformed into a pre-built digital solution, consider evaluating the processes – sometimes simplification is not that bad a thing. Alternatively, think of the implementation partner who can build you the answer and start with small MVP (minimum viable product).
Click here for the vendor selection checklist.
P.S. It is all about fast, flexible, and friendly vendors who can deliver the solution that helps your daily business. Don’t get overwhelmed by the number of “good” vendors out there. Choose the one that fits into your checklist and does not seem like a bullshit bingo provider.