VIP: A New Approach to Vendor Selection

VIP: A New Approach to Vendor Selection

Laura Drabik

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I recently purchased a book from my local bookstore titled F in Exams - The Very Best Totally Wrong Test Answers. It’s a compilation of funny test responses collected by a teacher. I thoroughly enjoyed reading some of the comical entries, including:

Exam Question: What does a transformer do?

Student’s Response: It can go from being a robot to a sports car in three seconds.

When a student doesn’t properly prepare for an exam by using all the resources available to them, like their text books, exam responses like this happen. Similarly when selecting a core system software vendor, if carriers rely upon an antiquated proof of concept methodology to select a vendor, they may end up with an ‘F’ in vendor selection. The following is sample list of refreshing ideas to help guide carriers through the vendor selection process. We suggest using a new approach to vendor selection referred to as the VIP or Vendor Immersion Program.

#1 Complete Pre-VIP Prep

  • Consider bringing in a best-practices vendor early in the process so they can work with you to devise a VIP multi-day agenda for all vendors.

  • Conduct a discovery call with your trusted advisor so they can understand how you do business and what you want to achieve.

  • Create a business flow (not a script) that can be used as a scorecard.

  • Install the software to see how your existing network can support the new system.

#2 Conduct the VIP

  • Have a kick off with your key players in attendance: executives, and core business and technology teams.

  • Have the vendors demonstrate out-of-the-box software. This way you know what you get when you install as of day one.

  • Request a current customer testimonial. With this, you have an opportunity to get a first-hand account of the system and vendor from a peer in your own industry.

  • Conduct parallel business and technical sessions to more efficiently utilize your resources.

  • Test the vendor by asking that they configure something unique to your environment.

  • Throw your business users on the system — not just to check out the feature sets, but to apply it to relevant business lifecycle events specific to your business.

#3 Assess the VIP

  • Utilize a scorecard and record strengths and weaknesses of each solution or vendor.

  • Debrief with each vendor. Let them know what went well and what didn’t. This will help them to evolve their solution in the future.

And Lastly…

When selecting a vendor, remember that you are selecting a partner for the lifetime of your system and potentially for that of your career – choose wisely by preparing soundly.