Have you ever spent months on technology vendor selection, only to get to a failed implementation? Perhaps your stakeholders are not aligned with your vendor choice, your requirements management has gone south, or the project team missed critical project components during the evaluation. If this sounds familiar, don’t despair. We’ve compiled a 7-step process that will help you get to a seamless technology vendor selection experience.
What are the 3 Stages of Vendor Selection
How to Choose a Tech Vendor
Step 1: Define and Analyze Requirements
The technology vendor selection process starts with defining and analyzing requirements, so having a solid requirements management system is essential. An effective Requirements Management process must involve Elicitation, Validation, Specification, and Verification. This provides a way to prevent mistakes and errors by tracking changes and enabling a consistent flow of communication with stakeholders from starting a project throughout the lifecycle. Although requirements have traditionally been managed via documents, requirements management tools offer a far more streamlined and efficient process.
Requirements management tools can also help teams organize themselves in the technology vendor selection process. The team should be able to:
- Define the technological product that is required
- Define the Technical and Business Requirements
- Define the Technology Vendor Requirements
- Confidently publish Requirements
The team will also need to collect relevant information, identify and interview stakeholders and users, review critical materials, and establish technical information.
Step 2: Identify Potential Technology Vendors in the Market
After publishing a requirements document, the team must establish a list of potential vendors. Traditional methods for identifying technology vendors include writing lengthy and tedious RFIs/RFPs. This archaic process is full of bias and misalignment. However, advances in software evaluation technology make the process a whole lot easier.
For example, at Olive, we transform the vendor selection process by easily moving customers away from the archaic RFP/RFI processes to a fully agile evaluation. This leads to a much faster, far more effective decision while also increasing collaboration across stakeholders, providing assurance that 100% of solutions are evaluated, and assuring a robust and objective selection process.
Step 3: Outline Evaluation Criteria (Weighting Requirements)
Traditionally, the outline evaluation criteria happened when the team would construct an evaluation model that weighs a requirement against its value and priority. For example, if the vendor meets a requirement with a score of 7 (on a scale of 1 to 10) and the priority of that requirement is 5 (on a scale of 1 to 5), then the response can be scored by 35. This weighted outline evaluation criterion helps to distinguish key differences among technology vendors.
Luckily, you can streamline the outline evaluation criteria into a quick and efficient process with the help of technology.
For example, Olive’s evaluation platform features requirements templates that easily streamline the evaluation criteria process without any heavy manual lifting.
Step 4: Build Consensus – Align on and Rank Requirements in Collaboration with Key Stakeholders
Once the evaluation criteria have been established, it’s time to align on and rank requirements in collaboration with key stakeholders to ensure a common understanding. Becoming fully aligned with key stakeholders helps identify errors and discover needs during the requirements phase. Full involvement and alignment also increase the likelihood of delivering a high-quality project.
Ensure your stakeholders know they have a seat at the table: Be open and honest about the requirements process. Ensure that you’re discussing how the technology being evaluated will benefit each stakeholder individually. If your team feels the technology won’t affect them positively (or at all), their engagement levels will reflect that lack of enthusiasm.
Furthermore, don’t rely on spreadsheets, long email threads, and multiple meetings for effective stakeholder alignment. Instead, provide a centralized hub for stakeholders to collaborate easily and effectively.
Step 5: Evaluate Vendors Against the Business Needs
Understanding your business needs is the first and most crucial step in the technology vendor selection process. Ensure that the identification of these needs is ideally a collaborative process between critical decision-makers. Here are some key considerations that help with alignment:
- What are your business goals for the next year?
- What areas of the business are growing, and what areas are shrinking?
- How could the right solution benefit our company?
- Do we have the right budget for our needs?
- What does success mean to our business?
Traditionally, evaluating vendors against your business needs is done in spreadsheets and by hosting multiple meetings. However, business needs often change over time, even throughout the evaluation. The traditional method of ‘a moment in time RFP’ is outdated. You need to be able to pivot to your business needs to allow for flexibility over time, so consider investing in an agile platform that allows just that.
Step 6: Shortlist Vendors and Schedule Demos
After completion of vendor briefings, the team should be better equipped to evaluate potential vendors. Selected vendors should provide a solution overview of the organization’s current business and technological requirements, fees, benefits derived from using a particular vendor, etc. In addition, vendors are requested to provide a “demo” to showcase the capabilities of their solution. Demos are a valuable way to get more information and evaluate a vendor’s intangible aspects. It is critical to check the vendor’s references as a part of the evaluation process (site visits are also strongly recommended).
Primary and Secondary Options:
After the evaluation process, the team will identify a primary option (the winner) and a secondary alternative.
Step 7: Complete Vendor Selection
Based on the choices of technology you encounter, you will likely have a favorite. Remove bias from the decision-making process by comparing technology vendors once more to the ranked list of requirements. Do your due diligence in ensuring that you choose a solution based on your business needs and goals, without bias, with adequate input from your key stakeholders. The final vendor selection step includes identifying objectives, deliverables, timeframes, and budgets for the project with the vendor.
Get to Implementation in 66% Less Time!
The technology vendor selection process has traditionally been associated with a long and tedious journey. This journey included spreadsheets and emails to keep stakeholders in the loop, manual evaluations, lengthy RFPs, and more administrative, time-consuming tasks. However, investing in the right software evaluation platform can drastically improve and streamline your technology vendor selection processes.
With Olive, you can gather, rank, and satisfy your requirements through a streamlined platform which greatly shortens the process of automating the tedious aspects without sacrificing due diligence. We’ve created a product that solves the problems associated with evaluating solutions and gets straight to the point in choosing the best vendor for your business needs. See how it works for yourself with a 14-day free trial.