The IT Vendor Selection Process: Step by Step

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Selecting an IT vendor can be a harrowing process for businesses. There are so many vendors offering a wide array of services that companies can be struck by analysis paralysis or rush into a contract that doesn’t benefit them in the long run.

Regardless of which company you ultimately sign a contract with, IT vendors will cost your company a sizable chunk of money. In fact, 71% say up to half of their total budget goes to external service providers.

That’s why it’s important that your business take extreme care when hiring a vendor. Here’s an expert timeline that will take you from defining your needs to negotiating that final contract.

1. Define your needs.

Before you do any other preparatory work, determine your company’s IT needs.

What are your must-haves? What are your like-to-haves? What are the additional benefits that would be nice to have? What kind of budget are you working with?

With all these important details listed out, you’ll form a clear picture of the type of company or companies you’d like to work with, which will help you conceive your relationship management strategy and choose your vendor.

Read, “5 Questions you Must ask Your IT Provider.”

2. Devise a relationship management strategy.

 While you may adjust your relationship management strategy when you begin working with your vendor, it’s important to draft an initial version so you can determine which vendors will work well with your company.

Your strategy should address payment, user requirements, communication methods, and a goal timeline, among other important items. All top IT and software-related employees should help formulate your strategy, just in case you forget an important factor that another specialist might know about.

Ensure your strategy covers security, which can be especially troublesome when it comes to third parties. Only 52% of companies have security standards for third-party businesses—you don’t want to be in the 48%.

3. Do your research.

Now, you can start your research. At the end of this process, you should have a list of vendors that will adhere to three main requirements.

Your choices must satisfy your business needs: Chosen vendors need to adhere to your initial list of business needs.

They need to work well within your relationship management strategy: If you think a vendor might take extra effort to manage, go ahead and cut them off your list.

Vendors with excellent reviews and recommendations: Finally, consider what other businesses are saying. Recommendations from highly successful brands in your industry are an indication that the vendor might work well with you.

4. Select your supplier or suppliers.

Once you’ve created a list of vendors that match your three requirements, you can make your choice.

If your business cannot decide between a few options, additional phone calls with each of the businesses may help you get a feel for which teams you would work well with. An IT vendor that is friendly and communicative will save your team time, money, and headaches later on.

Be sure to choose a few backup options just in case. 

5. Negotiate the contract.

While negotiations may be the longest part of the process, they are also the most important.

Remember that negotiations are always a two-way street; if you can set up a mutually beneficial, comprehensive contract that both businesses happily endorse, you’ll save time and money in the long run.

Followed carefully, this step by step guide should help lower costs, ensure top service, and reduce risk while increasing effective performance—ultimately making your IT vendor relationship a rewarding one.

If you’re ready to find your IT “perfect match,” contact us today.

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