Finding Your Perfect Match
Roses are red, violets are blue, time to choose a vendor. Do you have a clue?
Okay, obviously I’ll never face off in a freestyle rap battle with Eminem. But I do have experience rolling out new technologies in credit unions.
Recently, a colleague of mine compared technology vendor shopping with online dating. Funny, but she’s not far off. If you’re in the market for document management solutions, check out my tips to ensure you are bringing home a solid and dependable guy — I mean technology — and not one that oversold himself. I mean itself.
One of the first steps in selecting a new technology vendor is identifying your credit union’s needs and doing some research to see what solutions might be a fit. A request for proposal (RFP) brings structure to the procurement decision and allows you to clearly identify the risks and benefits up front.
Think of this as completing your online dating profile. Be specific on what you are looking for in a vendor, just like you would with a romantic partner.
Minimizing your risk is paramount with any new solution. In your RFP, ask potential vendors how many installations they’ve performed, if they have any user groups, what they spend annually on R&D, what training is involved and what levels of support are offered.
But don’t stop there. How many desk employees are there? What are the hours of support? What’s the average resolution time?
The answers to these questions will let you know if the vendor is going to be around for the long-term.
What to Look for in a Partner
After receiving responses to your RFP, scrutinize them. Ask contenders for a demonstration. A strong vendor will be able to show you how their solution will work in your organization and improve the processes that you use every day – with your documents.
And keep asking questions. You need to know that you’re getting value for your investment. Also, think about the future. The right solution will have the ability to expand beyond your immediate needs and become a standard for years to come – across the entire enterprise.
Taking your time to ask the right questions allows you to select vendors and technology solutions which truly meet your internal needs. Ease of integration and a structure of strong support and service are common standouts for why certain vendors are chosen. Doing your due diligence will instill confidence that you are making the right decision.
Much like finding out if a potential mate is actually interested in a relationship before you become involved, gaining employee buy-in is critical to a successful technology implementation. Project managers and IT staff should be in constant contact with employees about any new IT implementation.
When the new technology is actually in place, hands-on training classes or online training for remote offices conducted by your vendor are great ways to get employees excited as well as educate them about the new system. Training shows employees how their lives will get easier and ensures you get a strong return on your technology investment.
Happily Ever After
In today’s world of vast technology options and providers, vendors should put meeting your ongoing needs at the top of their list. To keep your partnership strong long after the “honeymoon stage,” continue to share your expectations with your vendor. Hold them accountable for providing you with superior customer service.
They should provide 24/7/365 tech support with a dedicated point-of-contact that stays with you until issues are resolved or questions are answered. Powerful customer service also means developing a product in collaboration with customers. That means it should include many ways for your voice to be heard, so your solution can meet your needs today and grow (old) with you.