These 3 steps will supercharge your Vendor meetings
LOS GATOS, CA April 7th, 2016 - Too often systems and software are not used to their full potential because companies are not aware of the full capabilities and scope of the instrument in which they are investing.
In their limited time with you, Vendors will focus on what they think is important or relevant to your business, but may gloss over or not share information that may be helpful. And if you don't speak up, how will the vendor know what's a matter of priority for you?
To be fair, Vendors don't know what you don't know - so creating a strong partnership is an important factor in determining whether your organisation will maximise the full resources at its disposal.
Here is how to make your organisation memorable in the eyes of your Vendors and maximise the value of the tools at your disposal.
1 – Document Your Needs
Before meeting with any potential Vendor, your first step is to document your ‘Needs’. This will help out greatly, later, when you compare your notes with the Vendor's material and are then able to quickly establish whether you are comparing apples with apples.
For example, when engaging with a Portfolio & Project Management (PPM) Software Vendor, identifying your organisations' biggest pain points will be essential in determining the best software fit, and subsequently getting the most from the software to alleviate your problem areas.
Are your projects running over budget? Over time? Or worse, never get finished?
All of these important issues are a challenge to many organisations, but the right software can help overcome or remove these completely, allowing your business to thrive more effectively and more efficiently. So let your problem be solved by openly stating what you actually need.
2 - Share Business Strategies
What should be common practice is often missed by both sides. By sharing your business strategy - as a whole and in as much detail as you can - you'll give Vendors a clear idea about ‘why’ the business is in operation and ‘what’ your strategies are. This is how they're able to present you with the best possible solution!
It pays to be honest. Share the challenges you have and may not know how to solve. After all, this is why you hired these people in the first place! Share your concerns and fears for the project(s) and you'll be amazed at the result.
Say you're looking to acquire that new PPM Software. Wouldn't it make sense to let your vendor know you're concerned about the current influx of redundant data stressing your infrastructure and slowing down your systems? Or perhaps the confusion in tracking project progress? This is a common problem amongst many professionals (and the reason why many projects fail), and can so easily be resolved with good quality software that keeps records in the cloud. Without expressing concern over this issue however, your Vendor may assume you already know how to fix this - or not know it's a problem at all - and provide no additional training or information on how to address this vital defect.
3 - Keep the Vendor on Track
Time is money, and by now you probably know how much your time costs. Your time is valuable and by showing the same respect and understanding to your Vendors, they will appreciate the efficiency with which you handle this first meeting and all subsequent engagements, communications and projects. And that will make you utterly memorable all on its own! For meeting zero, draft a mini-agenda of key points for discussion and note all answers, alternatives and opportunities that come up.
Are your projects always running over time and over budget? You can use this meeting to find out why and how this can be fixed by being well prepared and using your time most efficiently.
Also, keep everyone on track. Sometimes Vendors will sit back and reminisce about past clients and cite references that are of no use to you. Be discerning about what information you need and if something holds no value, move the discussion along.
If you enter meetings strategically well-armed, you may find capabilities, opportunities and even services you didn't know were on offer to you. By following the tips above, you can ensure you go into your next Vendor meeting well planned and on target.