Nearly every business works with one or more vendors. Manufacturers that turn raw materials into finished goods are vendors to retailers. Retailers that sell finished goods are vendors to consumers. As vendors range greatly in terms of reputation, pay rates, and unique services, it is important to carefully screen your vendors to determine which are best for your business. The vendor selection process requires numerous steps that are designed to help businesses make informed and strategic decisions about vendors.
Importance of Comparing Vendors
While vendors may provide similar services, they may not offer the reliability, quality or price point that you are looking for. That being said, it is important to take all of these factors into consideration when selecting a vendor to work with. If a vendor is lacking in certain areas, it can cast a bad light on your business. For example, if you own a restaurant and have a vendor bring you fruits and vegetables that are past their prime, your restaurant may develop a bad reputation for the quality of its food.
In the IT industry, choosing a poor vendor can lead to a subpar (software) product, which can lead to a subpar experience for your business, your partners and your customers. This is why it is so important to work with an unbiased IT management consultant who can help find and select a first-rate vendor to match your business needs.
Vendor Selection and Management
Many businesses choose to work with experienced IT management consultants to go through the vendor selection process with a critical eye. A consultant can walk you through vendor selection and management, as well as all of the processes that go along with it.
The vendor selection process begins when executive advisors and clients team up to identify their current and future business needs. It is important to consider your future needs from both a technical and a functional standpoint. Once you have a clear understanding of where you stand now and where you are headed, an executive advisor can help you draw up a Business Requirements Document. This document acts as a blueprint to thoroughly screen and select vendors that may meet your needs.
Once your business has developed your vendor selection criteria and has a Business Requirements Document in place, you can begin the important process of researching and choosing qualified vendors. Research is needed to scope out potential vendors in your area that offer the services you need at the terms and price point you can afford. Once you have several applicants in mind, a Request for Information (RFI) is sent out to each vendor to gather information about their business practices and terms of contracts.
With access to information about each vendor, you can compare this data to the vendor selection criteria that you created earlier in the process. Knowing whether a vendor meets these criteria can help you narrow down your list of applicants. If you locate a vendor that meets your criteria, your executive advisor will assist you in applying for a Request for Proposal (RFP). An RFP is a detailed breakdown of a vendor’s services, which can help you identify what the vendor offers and compare their pros and cons.
Once you have chosen the vendors you would like to work with, an executive advisor will manage subsequent interactions, such as scheduling meetings or on-site demos between businesses and vendors. A demo can also be arranged to allow businesses the opportunity to see what features and functions are offered and how they are delivered. A business may also require product demos with key stakeholders so that all parties can address any questions or concerns early in the process. Finally, an executive advisor will help finalize all contracts and make you aware of any potential risks or liabilities your business faces by working with a specific vendor.
Professional IT management consultant services do not end with the vendor selection process. Executive advisors can also provide businesses with vendor management support services. This may include testing the capabilities, quality of work, and turnaround times of certain vendors. An executive advisor can also continually evaluate vendor performance against your criteria and provide critical feedback to maintain quality. Other tasks can also be completed, such as maintaining communication with vendors and ensuring that payments are made on time.
Learn More About Vendor Selection
The vendor selection process is not always straightforward. There are many components to consider before choosing a vendor and signing a contract. The right vendors can help you grow your business and thrive, while the wrong ones can cause your business reputational and financial strain. By going through the vendor selection process and utilizing professional vendor management services, you can help ensure that you select an advantageous vendor for your business needs. For more information about the vendor selection process, contact the knowledgeable IT management consultants at Hartman Executive Advisors today.