Can’t Get No Supplier Satisfaction?

You probably have a series of suppliers and partners that interact with your business in a variety of ways. When it comes to IT, the list could well be long and complicated. The technology marketplace is a confusing place. Mergers are common, a large number of outsourcing providers exist and it’s often a struggle to choose one IT supplier from another, especially when there is little to tell their software systems/services apart!

For the IT manager, stuck in the middle of a complex tangle of vendor propositions and three letter acronyms, finding the right partner can be a tricky task. So, how can a customer get satisfaction from a supplier? A simple ‘finger in the air’ test will not suffice. Good supplier relationships need work and your selection of a provider must be well thought through. If you speed through the tendering and evaluation process, you are likely to be left disappointed.

Recommendations from peers are helpful, as are previous experiences. But do not simply rely on the tried and tested. Suppliers can sometimes surprise and a thorough evaluation of your available options might present a new potential provider. Your supplier needs to provide satisfaction across a series of areas. Value for money is obviously important but it should not be your only consideration. Does the software meet your organisation’s particular needs? Is the software reliable and does the supplier provide quality and local after sales support?

Is the supplier financially stable and likely to be around in ten years’ time? The modern business is technology-enabled and the crucial role of IT means you must know that the provider of any implemented system is likely to be a viable partner for many years to come.

Contracts need to be tight and measures set in place. But once you’ve selected a supplier, don’t simply rely on contractual arrangements and vague KPIs to assess whether you are getting customer satisfaction. Continue to evaluate your suppliers through a series of carefully honed metrics to make sure they understand you and can readily respond to your needs. Ultimately you need to feel that your providers are delivering real value for money.

Getting satisfaction from a supplier doesn’t have to be impossible. The best providers will be partners; trust, metrics and importantly, regular communication, can make this partnership a reality.

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Dean Dickinson is Managing Director of Advanced Business Solutions, formerly COA Solutions. Dean has been in the finance software business since 1990. He was part of the senior management team at QSP/Arelon prior to the acquisition by COA Solutions at which time he became Deputy Managing Director for the business as a whole. Since the acquisition of COA Solutions by Advanced Computer Software Group in February 2010, Dean has become Managing Director for Advanced Business Solutions. He is a specialist in consultancy and has a strong knowledge of business processes within a high volume/high value environment.