Friday, June 09, 2006

Common Sense

Based on feedback from software vendors, it seems like a word of caution is in order regarding common sense in dealing with vendor proposals for software applications.

Companies spend countless hours -- and plenty of sweat, a little blood, and sometimes even tears -- in putting together a Request for Proposal that they send to vendors for "good faith" responses. The vendors in turn invest a considerable number of hours in producing their proposal, which often translates into thousands of dollars worth of time. The more conscientious the vendor, the more expensive the investment.

Each vendor realizes that they have only a 1/N chance of being selected by the merchant/prospect, but they are willing to take that chance if they feel they are well qualified compared to the presumptive competition, and if in their judgment it is a truly open competition (and not stacked in favor of a predetermined candidate).

All too often, the next step is a frustrating silence and lack of communication on the part of the merchant prospect. Calls are unreturned, e-mails unanswered. After months of the cold shoulder, the vendor may find out almost as a casual afterthought that they have been eliminated from consideration, without any discussion of their proposal or chance to clarify issues that might have been misunderstood.

You might say, "Well, that's just the way it goes, and it's the cost of doing business." But in my experience the lack of communication is typically the result of inadvertance or a fits-and-starts approach to the evaluation process altogether. It doesn't take a major commitment of time to keep the candidates "in the loop." Just letting them know your timeframe, and changes to it, and the status of the decision-making process, should be enough to establish a welcome civility. And when a decision has been made, every vendor who fails to make the cut deserves to be informed in a timely manner, with or without an explanation.

This field is a very small world, and you never know when what goes around is going to come around (and hit you on the back of the head). A word to the wise....

No comments:

Web Analytics