Evaluate Weigh the pros and cons of technologies, products and projects you are considering.

Choosing vendor partners wisely

Partnering with a vendor to make a strategic partnership that will stand the test of time is a delicate balance.

As competition increases, companies need to produce more in less time. Choosing partners to aid productivity becomes a core concern. However, partnering with a vendor to make a strategic partnership that will stand the test of time while attaining the excellence needed for success is a delicate balance. Successful partners are those who provide a full line of services and integrated products (directly or with partners) and are willing to share the risks involved in forming partnerships such as assigning responsibility for mission-critical systems. Without a strong set of guidelines, when problems with partnerships arise (and they always do arise at some point) accountability will go down the drain and a stream of finger-pointing may start.

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 (barries@killerapps.com)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.
This was last published in September 2000

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