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Vendor Selection Expand / Collapse
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Posted Monday, March 26, 2012 9:53 PM


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Comments posted to this topic are about the item Vendor Selection






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Post #1273154
Posted Tuesday, March 27, 2012 6:40 AM
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My guess is that often someone played golf with someone else, or takes them to dinner or other entertainment and the decision maker makes the decision that's best for them personally, not necessarily the company. I hate to be so cynical, but I see it happen over and over.


I've seen more than one corporation ruined because the C-level goes with the vendor that wined and dined and showered them with sex instead of making a rational business decision.

Post #1273452
Posted Tuesday, March 27, 2012 6:45 AM


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My rant about this subject:

With my organization (K-12 Education), if the IT department chooses the vendor, we do as you do; research, test, compare, do an RFP maybe and get the best product for our dollar. We do get to purchase what WE select.

However, even though we have a policy to not aquire software or systems without IT's approval, other departments choose a vendor with no thought process what so ever. Sometimes it is "free" software. Of course, we all know nothing is actually free. Free still means support costs, equipment costs, and IT time spent getting the "free" software functioning. Sometimes they just purchase an appication they read about, without any proof of it actually affecting student performance or getting us to research the product, then run in our office and want us to "install this program on the server." They have no idea what actually goes into getting a system or application functioning and we do not get any support from higher levels to tell them NO.

Also, vendors are tricky. They get into State Education representative's pockets and convince them to give school district's some "free" moneys for a particular program, however the catch is you have to contract with a that vendor, get their application, and then get caught in a reccuring contract that ends up costing the school distrcit more money in the long run. Then there are also the implementaion costs - the less a product costs, the more it seems to cost to get it functioning!

Holly

Post #1273456
Posted Tuesday, March 27, 2012 7:08 AM


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Steve Jones - SSC Editor (3/26/2012)
Choosing vendors to be partners is hard[/B]


I think the key term that needs to be considered is "partners" and even though not highlighted as a specific component of this search in the editorial, it is nevertheless one of the main considerations when looking at vendors. It is necessary to remember that this vendor is being selected to fulfill some critical business need or you wouldn't be spending the money with them, regardless of how small or large that amount of money is. With that, there is a need to ensure that the vendor will be able to fill that role. Golfing with them will not ensure that though. What will? Look at their application lifecycles, the company history, their presence in the community and ensure that all those areas are at the level you would expect. A company that spends the time, and money, to impact the community is obviously desirous of making sure that their customers are going to be well taken care of as well.


David

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Post #1273476
Posted Tuesday, March 27, 2012 7:41 AM
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In my experience, people in IT don't know where to start with an evaluation. I've asked simple questions about what are the inputs and outputs, how are the functions exposed, have we seen any documentation, have we talked to their support people. I get deer in the headlights responses. And I'm talking about other IT people.

True, decisions are made based on golf scores and who provided the better lunch, but no wonder, if an IT person isn't ready with some basic questions, some system of evaluation that sounds cogent and reasonable, I wouldn't trust them either. Everybody has to evaluate things they don't know about all the time; cars, cell phones, insurance. People tend to glaze over more for IT decisions than others, and IT people tend to do a lot of whining about that. Instead, maybe we should be working on our communication skills.
Post #1273502
Posted Tuesday, March 27, 2012 8:50 AM
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You hit the nail on the head. I used to be a purchasing manager. Salesmen would come in to sell me products, and invariably used pro sports tickets and other inducements to make the sale. One time a vendor offered to outfit the bathroom I was remodeling, so I went to my boss, and explained the deal. He gave the OK for me to accept about $1,000 worth of product, as long as the salesmen knew we were not going to buy from him. I even wrote it up and had him sign that he understood.

Later he was incensed that we didn't start ordering from him. When I brought up our agreement, he said something like "yes, but that isn't how it is done!"

Clearly salespeople feel if they can get you to accept some free gift that you are obligated to buy their product. The pressure they put on you once you take the gift is extreme, and I doubt many people can say no.

In fairness I see the same thing in family relationships, friendships, et cetera. People plan how to get someone to do what they want, then follow through with some enticement, and most people feel it is then rude to go against the wishes of that person because "they did that nice thing for me."

Dave


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Post #1273557
Posted Tuesday, March 27, 2012 8:54 AM
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WolforthJ (3/27/2012)
In my experience, people in IT don't know where to start with an evaluation. I've asked simple questions about what are the inputs and outputs, how are the functions exposed, have we seen any documentation, have we talked to their support people. I get deer in the headlights responses. And I'm talking about other IT people.



Maybe it is the quality of people you hire, or lack of training. True IT people DO NOT have this issue. I have worked with technical staff in a number of companies, some as employees and some as consultants. There are always those who under perform, but no more than those in other fields, and nowhere near as many failures as I have seen in management. Those who are truly inteliigent, and who have been allowed to learn, have an understanding of what it means to select a good product.

Dave


Dave
Post #1273564
Posted Tuesday, March 27, 2012 9:01 AM


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WolforthJ wrote: "I've asked simple questions about what are the inputs and outputs, how are the functions exposed"

Your IT department probably wouldn't know that. We keep systems running and keep the infrustructure running, but when it comes to using a system, the users are more cognizant of requirements and expectations. The creator of the system would know details such as how do the programs work (inputs, outputs, functions, etc). In our case that would be a call to development support. Planning the implementation of a system requires input from all stakeholders. IT will not have all of the answers.

Holly
Post #1273578
Posted Tuesday, March 27, 2012 9:18 AM
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Your IT department probably wouldn't know that.

What I meant was, as an IT person, those are the questions I think would ask of a potential vendor. Users would know what they want, but they tend to only look at the interface, what they will actually interact with. I hear salespeople and people who are passing on marketing info say that the behind the scenes stuff is easy. That may be, but I would like the opportunity to evaulate that myself if I'm the one who will be asked to do that easy stuff.

Sometimes the quality of the answer is all I need to hear. As you say, the creator of the system should know how the programs work. If I ask, and they wave their hands and highlight a couple hot features but avoid the details, that's a bad sign.
Post #1273593
Posted Tuesday, March 27, 2012 11:16 AM
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For all that we'd like to believe in our rational choices, there is too much unknown and unknowable. We tend to favor products that would have solved our recent issues had they been in place (and yet not be sure about how they'd handle our unknown future crises). We tend to choose products that make sense to us as IT, but might not make the same sense elswhere in the organization. We cannot tell how it will scale in reality, how people will accept it, and how it will handle unanticipated needs.

And every major product or project subtley changes the company down the road, a kind of 'butterfly flapping' event. It tends to channel users in directions where that product, by nature of it's philosophy, steers them. That, mixed with the unpredictable impact of outside forces in a continuous feedback loop can mean that we'll get to a somewhat different place. But we simply cannot predict what that place is for any product.

In the end we can agonize indefinitely. Better to choose a qualified product and run with it.


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