Revealing the cards – what to watch out for when choosing an IT solution provider
Scope of the project established, budget agreed on, duration estimated. List of IT suppliers ready. How to choose the one?
Don't be afraid to ask, check and test. It is better to do it in the sales process than after signing the contract. Make yourself a small checklist – what you care about, what was wrong with previous systems, where you want to improve your process. We advise you to consider the following:
The technology in which the solution is created is very important. Does it have a future, or is it already at the end of its existence?
If you think that the product will have to be modified, integrated or you are thinking about additional services – negotiate MD packages along with the contract; you will reach for them if necessary. This will save you a lot of money in the future.
Check the system architecture. Ask how many specialists the supplier has in their team.
Make sure the product you like has a roadmap. Will you participate in the revision of such a roadmap? This would be advisable because it helps to avoid additional costs in the future.
- How often a new version is released
- What changes have been added to previous versions
- Are updates included in the price
- Is the migration included as well
- Is the update mandatory
- Who pays for updating interfaces
Learn about the supplier's vision for the years to come. What kind of products they have in their offer, how much they spend on research and development. What their development plans, and priorities are.
The solution you want to buy is worth checking out by doing a pilot – otherwise known as PoC (Proof-of-Concept), running a demo version, or organizing workshops with sample tasks to be done.
If the product you are verifying does not have the features you care about, test the supplier – ask them to show you what a feature could look like. Check their flexibility and how they work under time pressure.
Change of heart
Make sure that the supplier guarantees the possibility to terminate the contract along with full service of transferring the project to someone else.
Talk about penalties for delays and service overruns (SLA). You're entitled to it, so use it.
Negotiate, but be careful not to fall into a trap. A Ferrari can't cost as much as Tata Nano, and if it does, make sure it has an engine and wheels. See if you get everything they promised you before the discount, and if the extra features will not cost you more than the license itself.
It is best to break down the offer into pieces and analyze them step by step with different variants. This will help you see how the price and scope of service changes before and after the discount. Where you can negotiate, what to give up on. Maybe your Ferrari doesn't have to have gold rims. Do you want a lower OPEX? Maybe something can be moved to CAPEX. Ask.
See which customers the supplier is working with or has worked with. It is worth organizing several reference meetings. You'll find out what’s what, and learn new things by the way too. Remember that as a satisfied customer, you will want to speak loud about your project, as a dissatisfied one – even louder. But you don't want the latter. Neither does the one you buy from.
Author: Kamila Niekraszewicz, Country Manager Italy, Comarch