Network administrators should exercise care in partnering with vendors. Thoughtful managers will assess each vendor's business and product strengths, as well as their customer orientation, by following these guidelines:
7 Evaluate products. How do they rate in terms of functionality, reliability, scalability and performance?
7 Decide if the vendor's development strategy for future products is clear.
7 Take a look at their track record for delivering on strategies and ask for references.
7 Learn about their financial and market strengths, and find out how their product and service breadth fits into your company's goals.
7 Determine who will provide installation and product support during consolidation, as well as ongoing service and support through the vendor help desk and on-line documentation.
7 Find out how responsive the vendor is to user-group recommendations for enhancements and fixes.
Doing your homework early will save you from potential headaches down the road.
Barrie Sosinsky (firstname.lastname@example.org)is president of consulting company Sosinsky and Associates (Medfield MA). He has written extensively on a variety of computer topics. His company specializes in custom software (database and Web related), training and technical documentation.