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Get inventive when you select suppliers and partners!

At the risk of this becoming another rant, I’ll keep it brief. Many organisations and leaders of organisations bang on and on about how great they are. Some are even right to do so. But from my experience what an organisation says about themselves tends to only contain the good news, especially where organisations, due to their size and complexity, have to make functions, such as customer service, a ‘process’.

And that’s where it falls down. Massively. The process or the concept of having a procedure. We have many processes and procedures, especially regarding access, data security and engagement with client and customer information. What we also have is a clue and are able to think and act outside of those processes in a secure and dependable manner.

That takes inventiveness, dare I say innovation. And that’s difficult to build into a workflow, without the process itself ensuring the outcome to failure, because the procedures were broken. Bear with me here as I have an example for you.

We recently had a customer, who had followed all the required processes and procedures in order to fulfil a requirement. The exercise was lengthy and carried out to the extent even the greatest pedant would be proud of. They selected a supplier. Everyone was happy. Ah, but wait. Then the problems started to appear. Which eventually caused major delays.

Obviously we came to the rescue with inventiveness and innovation coupled with experience and a ‘can do’ attitude. I had to say that, otherwise what would be the point! However, what we should all be mindful of is what we’re not being told by our suppliers and partners; we should question that we’re being corralled in a process and not exploring all eventualities.

If what you are really after is a way to assess your needs and how to achieve your goals, one suggestion is to ask your prospective supplier to bring along an existing customer of theirs to your next meeting. You never know, you might learn something from a peer.

Otherwise, if all you’re after is a tick list you could try this, in order to understand your needs, the below are some of the things we’ll want to share::

Objectives to Achieve

  • Strategic goals
  • Organisational objectives
  • Departmental expectations
  • Technology skills
  • User needs and wants
  • User skills
  • Customer expectations
  • Personal and professional needs

Pitfalls to Avoid

  • Previous experiences
  • Fitness of incumbent
  • Utilisation of existing products and services

Peer and Consultancy Experiences

  • Peer, colleague or supplier experiences
  • Would you share your experiences
  • Consultancy required, technical or business

Selection Criteria

  • Make a list of what you want
  • Can the partners or vendors provide what you need
  • Are they the best at everything or are they just the cheapest
  • Who are you current suppliers for products and services
  • What do you like about the incumbent
  • What are the costs associated with the incumbent

Services and Partner Selection

  • Do you feel you could build a relationship
  • Will they be able to support you
  • Are they really with you for the journey