How will I know? I can hear Whitney soaring… (don’t trust your feelings). How will I know?

This is not exactly the question we get asked, but it’s the question behind the question – how will you know (before it’s too late)? “I’m asking you what you know about these things.”

Implementing a new system can be a daunting task, and choosing the right vendor(s) to help you navigate this process, what we can term the “selection process,” can make all the difference. Whether you’re working directly with a software provider or via a solution implementation partner, their expertise and compatibility with your team, your “implementation team,” can either smooth the path ahead or lead you astray.

The minefield of selecting vendor partners is not easy to navigate. How will you know? Well, in this case, I’m very much inclined to trust your feelings.

Feelings can be helpful if you remember they’re information, not everything. Balance your feelings about the work ahead and your choice of partners in these areas.

Technical Competence and Innovation

One of the key considerations when choosing a vendor is their technical competence, their technical knowledge, and their ability to provide expertise in the tool that you’ve selected. However, technical expertise alone is not enough. A vendor must also possess some creative problem-solving skills that will help you get the most out of your new system during the implementation process. It’s very unlikely that everything will work exactly as you need it to right out of the box. Some capacity to think creatively about your business and consider ways to configure or use the chosen software that still serves your needs is what you’re paying the experts for. Expertise like this is priceless!

Ensure that you understand which area of expertise each vendor(s) is technically proficient in, one of the key considerations in the selection process. Making sure you’re talking to the right experts for the job will save you lots of time and reduce frustration. Infrastructure experts will not necessarily be the right people to ask about PLM systems, for example. A vendor partner who has deep competence in the configuration of an ERP might be the ideal choice for your ERP implementation but may not be the right partner to build and develop integrations. A highly skilled integration partner may not be the right person to engage in product hierarchy or master data set-up activities.

Budget and Future Development

For some people, budget is the first decision point in the selection process. If the software you want, keeping your business requirements in mind, is way outside your budget, then you must consider alternatives. The balancing act here is that a software solution that is only half as good can end up costing just as much as the expensive version once you factor in additional add-ons, workarounds, and customised bits of code. Thus, it’s crucial to consider not just the initial implementation costs but also the potential return on investment from the software.

Think about the whole cost of getting or not getting the most expensive thing, but also consider the potential return on investment. A cheaper solution might seem tempting, but if it can’t deliver the results you need, the return on investment may be lower in the long run.

Another crucial factor to consider is the vendor’s track record of providing support both during and post-implementation project completion. The vendor must fit your budget (or be open to a compromise), keep the implementation costs reasonable, be capable of offering future development for technical support, and have a roadmap of improvements. You need someone who is sticking around to help.

Cultural Compatibility

As much as technical expertise and future roadmaps are critical, they will take you as far as getting the tech to work. Not to downplay this, it’s not negotiable.

A good vendor will also be compatible with your team’s strengths and cultural norms. Building and supporting any system requires collaboration between vendor(s) and your internal team, so it’s crucial to make sure that there is some level of cultural compatibility. If the vendor is open to learning and sharing insights, then everyone learns, and all parties can achieve the best results.

Project Management

Implementing a new system requires project management skills from your vendor (and from you). They should have a clear project plan detailing who will deliver what, when, and how. The plan should have contingency measures in case of unforeseen events and a communication channel that allows you to track the progress of the entire project. The perfect vendor for your new system implementation should be proactive in mitigating risks to stay within the project’s budget and timeline.

If you don’t have an internal project manager to oversee the entire project, we know some people 😉.

Value Realisation

Finally, the goal of any new system is to achieve the expected value as it aligns with your business strategy. So, it’s essential to choose a vendor who can help you realize this value and enable your business to reap maximum benefits from the system.

It’s not always a walk in the park to achieve this, but if you choose the right vendor, it’s achievable. Working with the right vendor(s) when implementing the new system(s) can provide significant dividends in the long term for your business.

We like to be clear about where the value is expected and what that looks like for the business team at the start of the project. It’s a good way to clarify success. Success is one of those words that means different things to different people. That’s OK, you just want to be clear about how to define that success ahead of time, so you don’t get people re-inventing history.

No Need to Rush: Take the Time to Assess and Understand

The pressure to finalize your vendor selection quickly can be overwhelming but don’t rush the decision-making process. Give yourself ample time to assess and get to know your potential partners. The longer you spend evaluating your options, the more questions you’ll have answered, leading to a well-informed choice. Resist external pressures and prioritise finding the perfect fit for your project.

Choosing the right vendor can be a daunting task but taking the time to evaluate their ability to provide technical expertise, cultural compatibility, future development, project management skills, and value realization can significantly contribute to the successful implementation and operation of your new system. Ultimately, your choice of vendor can determine your new system’s success in transforming your business processes and achieving your desired results.

Finding the Perfect Fit for Project Success

In the quest to find the ideal implementation partner, trust your feelings, but combine them with thorough research and a clear understanding of your implementation project’s requirements. Look for a partner with a track record of successful implementations. By maintaining continuous communication and taking the time to assess your options, you’ll find a partner that can make your project dreams a reality and ensure a successful implementation.

Navigating through vendor selection for your project doesn’t have to be an intimidating task. Remember, the key to finding the perfect fit lies in the blend of technical competence, budget considerations, cultural compatibility, project management skills, and value realisation. Equipping yourself with the right tool can greatly streamline this process.

We have created a robust and comprehensive template for vendor assessment that provides a systematic approach to evaluating potential vendors. This tool can be your guiding compass in making an informed decision, taking into consideration all the aspects we discussed.

The template includes detailed evaluation criteria, including general presentation, technical capability, track record, commercial proposal, and much more. It allows you to quantify aspects such as response time, understanding of project scope, reference checks, cost considerations, and support arrangements, amongst others. The template will help you assess your potential vendors with greater confidence and precision.

Don’t leave your project’s success to chance. Download the template today, and take the first step towards ensuring a successful implementation. The template is designed to take the guesswork out of your vendor selection process, helping you move forward with a vendor that fits your project requirements the best.