Qualifying Vendors: Three Quick Questions
Before organizational leaders begin to apply valuable resources to evaluating the impact of new technology or the value of a new service, it is important they have a feel for the ability of the technology or service to be delivered, managed, and supported over time. Many vendors and integrators champion their ability to solve a problem with a new technology or service but fall short of providing convincing evidence that they can support that problem solving over time and at volume. Presented below are three quick qualification questions that should be asked of every vendor and integrator championing a new technology or service.
Question #1: How many clients do you have that have completed a full project with you?
Projects do not include demonstrations, agreements, pilots, or partnerships, but consist of production environment use in support of a business related task.
Question #2: How many project managers does your organization have that are dedicated to supporting the delivery of your technology or service?
The number of project managers is one very objective way of determining potential support capability. It is also a key indicator of how many clients a vendor/integrator may be supporting.
Question #3: Are you cash flow positive and are you under litigation related to a financial matter?
This two element question may help you understand how much a vendor/integrator is able to focus on solving your challenge vs. solving its own economic challenges.
These questions are certainly not the only ones that should be asked of vendors and integrators championing new technologies and services, but if these questions are asked up front, they may serve to uncover areas of concern early in the qualification process. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but they can provide insight into areas that you may want to understand before deciding to move from asking about a solution to asking for the solution.