Today I am going to blog on a topic that comes up quite a bit during the software evaluation process, which is “When purchasing operational software, are you looking for a vendor, or are you looking for a partner?”. Now at first glace, that may seem like a “kumbaya” type of question, however it absolutely should be something that should be considered as you go through your review.
For many years, I was on the other side of the table evaluating and purchasing software solutions from many of the vendors that still remain current and present in today’s print and manufacturing market. Today, I am one of those vendors working for Ironsides Technology. Being involved on both the purchasing and selling side has taught me many lessons of what is important when you establish a contractual relationship with a software provider. I want to share my perspective on the topic….
Let’s make this clear….from a definition perspective; when you establish a contractual relationship with a software provider you are the “customer” and we are the “vendor”. Just look at the T+C(s) of the contract…… There are a lot of great products out in the marketplace today and make no doubt that when you are going through your selection process that product functionality, flexibility, support, pricing, client references, and cost of ownership are all of the boxes that need to be checked prior to moving forward, but there is one important question you should never leave out when evaluating….which is - is this “vendor” just a “vendor”; or is your “vendor” really a “partner”.
Remember, you are about to stroke a check to a company to provide you a software solution to help close immediate gaps/needs in your organization, as well as put you in a position to leverage the tool to deliver additional and continued value to both you and your customer base. You can really only do this in an effective manner when your vendor is truly acting as a partner… Some questions you may want to ask yourself are:
- Has this company asked me the questions of why this solution is important to my business, or are they hard selling me on why I need the product so badly?
- Has this company inquired and aligned themselves with my long term strategy?
- Have they opened up their references to see what existing customers really have to say about how they conduct their business?
- Have they provided you options and/or different scenarios to help you look at the solution from many different angles prior to making a purchasing decision?
- Are they making themselves fully available to be attached to my hip to help me fully vet this solution wise and ensure I am making the right decision?
- Has their documentation and conversation been transparent so that there will be no surprises or significant scope creep?
- Can I put my trust in this organization?
Speaking from the solution selling side; it takes two to tango….If I am dealing with a prospect that is simply looking for a commodity buy or a competitive bid; chances are a barrier has been put up that has prevented me from executing on the above. That not only hurts the software vendor from qualifying and solutioning correctly, but it also means you as a purchaser likely haven’t done your due diligence appropriately. The best relationships are established when both you and the customer are completely engaged; from a relationship, software, and business case standpoint. If you are simply looking for a vendor versus a partner; that is where surprises, scope creep, additional services, and last minute business impact changes show their ugly faces. It becomes a challenge for both parties.
As a software provider, Ironsides Technology knows how important being a partner to both our customers and potential customers are…..Just ask them….. Purchasing software is a big decision that affects many levels of an organization and you need to be sure that you are selecting a company you can trust, can evolve, and will deliver. We hope should you be in the market for operational technology to help you protect your business from breach, along with delivering valueable business intelligence to make you a lean operation - that you will reach out for a conversation.
Thanks for reading.