Before concluding our series of IT procurement articles, we wanted to address one of the most common questions that we get from clients: how do you choose the right supplier? Of course, there’s no straightforward answer; the right supplier for one business will not necessarily be the right supplier for another business. Largely it boils down to your specific organisational needs and the existing technology systems already used within the company infrastructure. However, in such a fast-pace area such as technology – it is also important to consider the supplier’s ability to facilitate future needs. This article will explore the key characteristics to look out for when assessing tender bids.
Before reading this article, it may be useful to remind yourself of the different types of IT suppliers as outlined in our previous post.
Ahead of reviewing merit, it’s important to ensure you requesting bids from the right suppliers in the first place. But how should you identify good suppliers? There are a number of channels that can be informative in this process:
Recommendations: One of the most valuable ways to accrue honest accounts of supplier performance is through word-of-mouth. Reach out to business contacts to ask which suppliers they have used and whether they would recommend any company to you.
Industry Publications: Relevant publications are usually littered with several advertisements from potential suppliers.
Directories: A quick and easy way to find a list of potential suppliers is through online directories. This can also be useful when specifically sourcing local suppliers – such as system integrators – who, if commissioned, would need to be on-site to perform their contract.
Outsourced Procurement Experts: Using an outsourced procurement agency or consultant that specialises within IT procurement will undoubtedly give you the best advantage for seeking relevant suppliers with proven experience in similar projects to your own.
Though sometimes useful, it’s important to be wary of sourcing suppliers through publications and directories as any supplier can pay to have their company listed on such platforms. As such, ensure that you always do the relevant research to ensure they have positive reviews from previous clients. Online directory platforms such as Clutch can be particularly useful in this instance as they will only list suppliers that are vetted with genuine testimonials from clients.
So, you’ve shortlisted several potential suppliers and have received proposals from each one to review. How do you choose the right supplier for you project? It goes without saying that by this point you should have a crystal-clear view of what your organisational requirements are. This is imperative for helping you to cut through some of the impressive sales pitches that prospective suppliers will inevitably send to you and assess whether each supplier can deliver on your specific needs. Key considerations might include:
· Reviews / Proof of Performance
· Supplier credit
· Work distribution
It may be useful to transform your needs and any additional supplier trait preferences into a criterion in which you can assess each bid against. Added to a table – these considerations can then be applied to each proposal:
Within the notes section you can jot down any comments for each proposal, indicating how well they fit each criterion.
Whilst the above criteria table can largely be applied to other procurement areas, there are some additional factors to be mindful of, specifically when looking at IT procurement. This includes:
Technology experience / expertise: Do they have proven experience working with technology systems similar to that of your company’s?
Total Cost of Ownership: Aside from implementation costs, have they outlined the TCO of any hardware or software within the proposal? TCO includes Purchase cost; Delivery; Installation; Training; Operation labour; Maintenance; Upgrades; Security
Warranties / Ongoing Support: As identified above, IT procurements are rarely a one-off implementation without the need for additional management. As such, it’s important to know what post-implementation services the supplier offers (if any), and what’s included within their proposed schedule of services.
What additional services / experience do they have? Technology moves at a rapid pace and as your company grows, so will your needs. Whilst procurement acquisitions should be made on a needs-basis, it’s important to be mindful of any future needs you may have and whether the solution offered by the supplier can grow with you (or whether it will become obsolete).
Like shopping for a new pair of shoes, supplier procurement is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and there will likely be multiple ‘shoes’ that could suit your purposes. Nonetheless, with a criteria in place, and a rough idea of the hierarchy of those criterion (i.e. which ones are the most important), it can be easier to identify which supplier is right for your business. Nonetheless, IT is a particular tricky area of procurement – often with organisation-wide repercussions and as such, new acquisitions should not be made without sufficient research to ensure that the solution best-resolves your organisation’s need. Owing to this, many organisations opt to use an IT procurement consultant or agency to navigate them through the process, drawing on their industry experience and connections to ensure that a suitable solution is found, implemented, and managed.
We can help your business understand what your true requirements are before you make any decisions. Our expertise allows us to assist you when it comes to utilising proper procurement practises that will pay dividend. We can guide you in reviewing your existing technology contracts and what to look for in new ones, so you avoid any automatic price increases, capacity limits, cancellation restrictions and beyond.
Choosing the best vendor for your business can be an overwhelming process. We can help with market research and negotiating price to get you the best deal because we have an extensive knowledge of the market. Once you have decided on your IT requirements and defined the products needed, we can assist with researching appropriate suppliers, contacting them for formal proposals, negotiating your terms and ensuring that penalties are in place if a supplier doesn’t perform. We also offer to oversee the project from start to finish – managing your contracts and leading the transition process to ensure that new systems are delivered on time without supplier disputes.
For further advice or an initial consultation please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.