Part 2: Define Your Results
Now that you have identified your stakeholders and set their requirements, you’ll need to set the expectations of what the ideal vendor partner will provide. Before making contact with a potential vendor, know the results you expect from your interactions with the vendors. Contemplate how you will structure the evaluation to achieve them.
Why are You Performing This Evaluation?
Are you looking for a plug-and-play solution, a specific service, or a strategic partner for future projects? Defining what you need to achieve with a vendor up-front. This will help to anchor all conversations and make disqualifying misaligned vendors easier.
How many rounds of evaluations are necessary?
It’s important to determine what information is necessary for deciding if a vendor is an appropriate fit. What criteria will you use to determine which vendors proceed to the next round of evaluations? The complexity of your requirements and the importance of non-product factors, such as experience, price, service, and vendor culture, can help you determine how many sessions to arrange as well as the order and focus for each.
What Format Will Be Used in Each Round of an Evaluation?
Emails, virtual calls, on-site demos, proposals, and hands-on trials all have their place in the process and it’s important to know which to leverage when. For instance, if the vendor is not local, a remote call would be sufficient for an introductory overview of the company, but for a later phase, a full-day in-person session may be more appropriate.
When Will Each Round of the Evaluation Take Place?
Approximately how long will the vendors need to prepare before each round and how much time will your team need to evaluate the information provided before determining who proceeds to the next phase of the evaluation? Keep in mind that the cadence of engagements will be impacted by the deadline for a decision, the number of vendors you’re evaluating, the complexity of the products being evaluated, and whether you have resources or consultants dedicated to the evaluation full-time.
Which Stakeholders Will Be Involved in Each Session?
How do you make sure that each impacted team is represented at critical points in the evaluation? While it may be appropriate to incorporate some redundancy into your pool of stakeholders for critical perspectives, you also do not want to divert from your planned course due to too many voices providing conflicting directions. If you’re unable to create a small, stable review panel of stakeholders to provide a consistent perspective across vendors and rounds of the evaluation, you will need to make sure that your core evaluation team is familiar enough with the requirements from each impacted group to represent their viewpoint in any interaction with the vendors, even if they are unable to attend a session.
Once your evaluation is structured, you’ll be ready to connect with your vendors and set up the initial rounds of evaluations.
Stay tuned for Part 3 Thorough Documentation coming next week!
Check out part 1 of this 3 part series, Identify Your Key Stakeholders.